And he'll be joining multiple members of that team that also splits time at AKA with their leader Khabib Nurmagomedov. Even "The Eagle" himself talk glowingly about Islam Makhachev, and how he might very well be the best of the bunch. That's a huge weight placed on the 28-year-old's shoulders.
Islam Makhachev draws RDA at UFC 254
While yes he maybe 18-1 and on a 6 fight win streak he has yet to be truly tested. No offense to Gleison Tibau or Kajan Johnson, they're just not on the same level. You can just see the aura around Makhachev and know he's destined for greatness.
Now he gets that chance though. Eight fights into his UFC career he gets to lock horns with a former champion that still has some danger in his hands. And Rafael Dos Anjos is the man that has stepped up. Well stepped back, as the now 9th ranked welterweight heads back down to 155.
In making the move up a division RDA spoke how it would be good to only worry about training and not cutting weight; as many fighters say. Although fighting at a .500 level at 170, he looked good in his 4-4 record there. Despite him being on a 2 fight losing streak. Both coming via decision, by the way. It's not like he's getting run through up there. As a matter of fact, win or lose he's gone to the cards 24 times in 42 career fights.
So if this fight goes to the cards, it'll give Islam Makhachev some much needed tough cage time with a seasoned veteran. That he can't get in the gym. While the UFC has to be careful of pushing too hard too fast on Makhachev, a win gives the 12th ranked lightweight a second-tier fighter. Possibly a Paul Felder or Charles Oliveira. Kevin Lee had called him out and even wanted to fight him in Russia, but with "Motown Phenom" popping his 2nd ACL, he'll be on the shelf till the end of the winter.
So in essence Islam Makhachev can now be just three wins away from getting a crack at the title. For RDA this might push him into a career path of fighting tough challengers, win some lose some; but no title opportunities.Published 20 Aug 2020, 20:30 IST