Davi Ramos wanted a good challenge and a top-15 opponent after winning four in a row in the UFC, and he’s getting both Saturday in Abu Dhabi, when he faces No. 15-ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev in the United Arab Emirates.
A multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion, who’s used to traveling to Abu Dhabi to compete in grappling tournaments, Ramos finished three of his last four opponents with rear-naked chokes in the Octagon. Makhachev is 17-1 as a professional with five straight wins, but Ramos sees him as a perfect matchup style-wise.
“It’s my fighting style. That gives me a super advantage against him,” Ramos told MMA Fighting. “I don’t see him bringing any danger in terms of fighting style. Everything he does, I do best. The only thing he has that is a bit better than me is wrestling because he’s been doing that his whole life, but my jiu-jitsu is better than his.”
If Makhachev decides to use his wrestling at UFC 242, Ramos believes it would backfire quickly as he would play in his opponent’s best strengths. Because of that, the Brazilian expects Makhachev to completely change his fighting style on Saturday.
“I do believe he will try to keep it standing instead of doing what he always does, but I’m ready,” Ramos said. “We’ll grapple eventually and I’ll have the chance to submit him.”
Unbeaten as a lightweight since 2014—his only UFC defeat came in a short-notice welterweight bout with Sergio Moraes—Ramos is confident that submitting his first ranked opponent in the UFC sends a clear message to his fellow 155-pounders.
“The message that sends to the division is that there’s a new era of fighters coming, and it’s my turn now,” Ramos said. “I’m here to stay. I’m not here just to be another fighter, I’m here to fight for the belt. I’m getting ready for that. This fight is a huge step ahead for me, a great opportunity to enter the top-15.”
There’s a long line of contenders waiting for a shot at the lightweight belt in the UFC. Interim titleholder Dustin Poirier challenges Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, and Dana White said Tony Ferguson is likely next if he’s healthy to take the fight.
Ramos is nowhere near the title picture right now, and it’s highly unlikely that a win over Makhachev puts him in that spot, but he’s confident it will happen soon. Until then, the jiu-jitsu specialist doesn’t see anyone capable of dethroning Nurmagomedov.
“With his fighting style, Khabib has a great advantage over 80 or 90 percent of the top-15, except for his friend Makhachev, who has the same fighting style,” Ramos said. “I do think he’ll keep the belt until I get there and fight against him.
“The only thing (Nurmagomedov) does is grappling, taking his opponents down with his wrestling and putting pressure. That’s what he does best. I’ve been doing that my entire life, so I’m very comfortable with this type of situation, unlike other athletes who aren’t used to it, so that puts me way ahead.”