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Islam Makhachev aiming for ‘more title defenses’ than Khabib, teases move to welterweight

“I want to do more title defense. And jump to the other division.”

UFC Fight Night: Makhachev v Green
Islam Makhachev will fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight championship at UFC 280.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Islam Makhachev has a chance to step into his own with a victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 280, with the feared Dagestani looking to surpass Khabib Nurmagomedov in title defenses should he claim the vacant lightweight championship in Abu Dhabi.

Khabib is widely considered the greatest lightweight champion of all time but has faced criticism as of late due to his lack of title defenses and early retirement. ‘The Eagle’ defended his lightweight title three times (tied with B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, and Benson Henderson) before retiring in 2020 following the passing of his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

Makhachev has no rivalry with Nurmagomedov, having trained with the latter from an early age, but he plans to do things a little differently as champion, aiming for more title defenses and a move up to welterweight in hopes of winning a second world championship.

“I want to do more title defense,” Makhachev told reporters ahead of UFC 280 (h/t BJPenn.com). “And jump to the other division.”

Speaking of his UFC 280 opponent Oliveira, Makhachev plans to make an emphatic statement by finishing the submission specialist and BJJ black belt on the ground.

“This is my goal: finish him in the ground because I have to show all people my grappling level,” he said.

UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev takes place this Saturday, October 22, at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.