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Khabib Nurmagomedov: If Charles Oliveira wins, UFC needs to book him vs. Islam Makhachev

Khabib Nurmagomedov believes timing, talent and opportunity have aligned for his longtime teammate Islam Makhachev, and it’s time for the UFC to reward that.

The undefeated former champion went to bat for Makhachev after the former champ’s protege delivered a one-sided beatdown of short-notice replacement Bobby Green in the headliner of UFC Vegas 49.

“Islam is on a different level right now,” Nurmaogmedov told the UFC after Saturday’s event at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. “He needs someone high-level fighter, like with the same win streak.

“Like Charles Oliveira – they need to make this fight.”

There is one barrier to that proposal in the form of Nurmagomedov’s last opponent, Justin Gaethje. The former interim champ is expected to challenge Oliveira for the title at UFC 274 on May 4.

Gaethje came up short in what ended up being Nurmagomedov’s retirement fight, which took place at UFC 254. He rebounded this past November with a “Fight of the Year” win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268.

Makhachev could serve as a backup fighter should one of the title combatants be unable to fight, and he welcomed the chance at the post-fight press conference. If Oliveira defends the belt, however, Nurmagomedov said all other options have been rendered moot.

“If Charles beats Justin Gaethje, it’s going to be an amazing fight,” he said of Oliveira vs. Makhachev.

Saturday’s win was Makhachev’s 10th straight and his fourth straight finish in the UFC. The 30-year-old Dagestan native is tied at No. 4 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, while Gaethje sits at No. 3 under No. 1 Oliveira.