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Islam Makhachev says comparisons with Khabib Nurmagomedov motivate him to work harder to become UFC lightweight champion [Exclusive]

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev
Anurag Mitra
Modified 04 Mar 2021

One of the most highly-rated prospects in the UFC lightweight division, Islam Makhachev is finally returning to the octagon after one and a half years. At this weekend's UFC 259 pay-per-view in Las Vegas, Makhachev will look to continue his unbeaten streak in the lightweight division with a win against Drew Dober.

Ahead of the fight, Sportskeeda caught up with Islam Makhachev to discuss his comeback after more than a year, comparisons with Khabib Nurmagomedov, his dream opponent, his upcoming opponent, and much more.

Check out the excerpts of our conversation with Islam Makhachev below.

Q.) The last time you stepped inside the octagon was back in September 2019. Is ring rust a factor that worries you as you head into your upcoming scrap against Drew Dober at UFC 259?

Islam Makhachev: You know, I'm very excited for my come back because it's been one and a half years. Almost four fights were canceled. So I'm excited for my come back.

Q.) Khabib Nurmagomedov has predicted that you will become the next UFC lightweight champion. Do you believe you're a cut above the rest of the currently active fighters in the lightweight division?

Islam Makhachev: This is a motivation for me. Everybody is talking about me and what I will do next. That's why I have to train hard and one day I will be champion.

Q.) The top five contenders in the lightweight division are all great competitors in their own right but who would you want to throw down against the most and why?

Islam Makhachev: I don't know about what UFC wants, but I think Rafael Dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson will be good for me. Some people from the top five, I think. Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Charles Oliveira now, he's really good now.

Q.) How has your weight cut been coming along for the fight and what do you make of your opponent Drew Dober?

Islam Makhachev: Drew is a tough opponent. He's not now in the top rankings, but he's really tough. Everybody knows he has good striking, a hard punch. I don't think so much about him, I have to show him what I have. I have fought guys like him before. But I know I have more than him. I will finish him quickly.

Watch Islam Makhachev lock horns with Drew Dober at UFC 259 on March 7, 2021, LIVE on Sony Ten 2 and Sony Ten 3 channels from 8:30 AM IST

Published 04 Mar 2021, 20:39 IST
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