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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov: Charles Oliveira is ‘starting to feel the pressure’ of Islam Makhachev fight

UFC 274: Oliveira v Gaethje Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Khabib Nurmagomedov struggles to make any sense of Charles Oliveira’s recent comments.

At UFC 280 on Oct. 22, the battle for lightweight supremacy will finally be decided when the former champion Oliveira takes on his fellow streaking rival, Islam Makhachev, for the vacant crown. Along the way, both sides of the bout have had plenty to say ... mostly in respectful fashions even when critical.

However, recently discussing the matchup, “Do Bronx” noted how he feels Makhachev and his team, including fellow former lightweight kingpin Nurmagomedov, are getting a bit arrogant which will lead to their downfall. When catching wind of Oliveira’s comments ahead of Eagle FC 49, which took place yesterday in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Nurmagomedov was perplexed, to say the least.

“Well, listen, first of all, how can you disparage the man who won the Fighter of the Year award in 2022? No one is disparaging him,” Nurmagomedov told Sambo Says.

“11 fights in a row he has won with so many finishes. I think it’s silly to think we’re underestimating this fight. This is a very hard fight. We always referred to him as a champion. If we say that we want to finish the fight early, I don’t see any arrogance in that at all. We have a plan. We want to finish the fight early. I think that Charles also has a plan and that he also wants to finish Islam. I think he also wants to hit his opponent in the face, use his kicks, knees, punches, elbow. Right? He wants to choke his opponent out, break their bones, etc. That’s the reason we step into the octagon, right?”

A lot of the chatter from both sides regarding how the fight will play out has centered around the potential ground battle and rightfully so. Both fighters are two of the most talented grappling specialists in all of MMA in their own unique ways, leading them to be fully confident in that area should the action go there. Oliveira happens to be so confident that he’s even invited Makhachev to start the fight on the ground with him.

For Nurmagomedov, he finds it all to be a bit telling of where Oliveira’s current mentality is at as the big fight approaches.

“So what is not arrogant from his side?” Nurmagomedov asked. “That he wants to beat Islam Makhachev? Am I right? What we’re talking about is true, right? So tell me who offended him. Not Ali [Abdelaziz], not myself, no one insulted him. Definitely not Islam, he has never insulted anyone. I don’t see any kind of arrogance here. I simply think he’s starting to feel the pressure of the fight.

“You know when you train to fight someone ... for example, someone like [Justin] Gaethje, or [Michael] Chandler, or [Dustin] Poirier, you know that they have already lost in the past. You can see their pluses and minuses. And you can identify the “switch” in their fights that lead them to victory or defeat. So what I believe, and this is solely my point of view, he may consider this arrogance as well but it doesn’t matter ... It appears to me that he looks at Islam and can’t find that “switch.” So because of that, he gets nervous. He starts to talk about this so-called arrogance and so on but who does this really concern?”

Unsurprisingly, the original Dagestani destroyer is expecting his protege to pull off the victory and secure his first world title on that fateful night in Abu Dhabi. At the same time though, Nurmagomedov expects it to be relatively competitive and gives Oliveira a 30 percent chance ... a number that’s right in line with the oddsmakers placing the Brazilian as a +145 underdog to Makhachev’s -175 favorite, per Bovada.

“On the 22nd of October, we will step into the cage and we plan on finishing him whether he likes it or not,” Nurmagomedov said.


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