Islam Makhachev is following in his teammate and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov's footsteps to become a dominant force to reckon with in the lightweight division.
At UFC 259, Islam Makhachev secured a submission victory over the rising prospect Drew Dober. With this, the Dagestani fighter has further advanced his MMA record to 19-1-0. Makhachev has only one loss on his resume that came at the hands of Adriano Martins at UFC 192. Since then, Makhachev has maintained an undefeated streak.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev's long time friend and sparring partner, became the lightweight champion almost six years after making his promotional debut. After six years following his UFC debut, Makhachev is eyeing the lightweight championship akin to Khabib.
Speaking at the post-fight presser after UFC 259, Islam Makhachev revealed his plans to become the UFC champion in early 2022.
"This year I have to fight two to three times more. Beginning of 2022, I'm going to become the champion."
Islam Makhachev on his dream fight in the UFC
Islam Makhachev is riding high on a seven-fight winning streak. The lightweight fighter expressed his gratitude towards his coaches and fans who kept their faith in him. Makhachev believes that if he continues to put on such dominant performances, he will eventually become the champ.
"I know lot of people believe in me. My coach always told me, 'Hey, you're going to be next.' Lot of people talk about me. What I have to do? I just have to train hard and that's it. I have good wrestling skills, good striking skills. I just have to improve and train hard.
The Russian fighter also revealed that his objective was to fight Tony Ferguson next. Khabib Nurmagomedov was slated to fight El Cucuy at UFC 249 but due to lockdown restrictions, the fight fell through. However, despite being on a two fight losing skid, Tony has been adamantly calling out Nurmagomedov for a fight.
It appears that Islam Makhachev wants to fight Tony Ferguson to put an exclamation on his friend's rivalry with the Boogeyman. Makhachev revealed in the press conference after UFC 259 that he is the most suitable opponent for Ferguson next.