Khabib Nurmagomedov would have ‘easy fight’ against Charles Oliveira, says Islam Makhachev

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Khabib Nurmagomedov retired unbeaten as UFC lightweight champion in 2020  (Getty Images)
Khabib Nurmagomedov retired unbeaten as UFC lightweight champion in 2020 (Getty Images)

Islam Makhachev has said his childhood friend and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov would have an ‘easy fight’ against Charles Oliveira.

Khabib retired unbeaten in 2020, moments after retaining the UFC lightweight belt by submitting Justin Gaethje.

Earlier this month, Oliveira also submitted Gaethje in what was supposed to be a title defence at 155lbs for the Brazilian. However, Oliveira missed weight a day before the fight and was thus stripped of the gold. His victory over Gaethje therefore saw him installed as No 1 contender for the now-vacant title.

Oliveira could go up against Makhachev – who is coached in part by fellow Dagestani Khabib – later this year with the belt on the line, though some fans would love to see Nurmagomedov come out of retirement to face the Brazilian.

After Khabib relinquished the UFC lightweight title upon his retirement, it was Oliveira who claimed the vacant gold in May 2021 by knocking out Michael Chandler.

“[Oliveira] is like an easy fight for Khabib,” Makhachev told ESPN. “Khabib had the most dominant grappling from top. He’s going to take him down, hold him there, very easy.

“I honestly think this is a very easy fight for Khabib. Stylistically all of [Oliveira’s] pressure is not going to work against Khabib, because Khabib pressures all of his opponents.

UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev has won 10 fights in a row (Getty Images)
UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev has won 10 fights in a row (Getty Images)

“We don’t have to say Khabib is going to beat Charles; I’m going to beat Charles, and everybody is going to understand [what Khabib would have done].

“Honestly I believe I can finish this guy, and I really want to finish him in the grappling – in his area. I know I can do this.”

Jiu-jitsu specialist Oliveira, 32, holds the records for most finishes and most submission wins in UFC history and is riding an 11-fight win streak.

Makhachev, meanwhile, has a wrestling approach that resembles Khabib’s but is less dependent on that facet of mixed martial arts. The 30-year-old has won 10 fights in a row since suffering his sole defeat as a professional.

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