Makhachev finally gets his shot at the title when he takes on Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280. In the build up to the fight, Makhachev has faced a number of doubters among the lightweight elite, saying that he’s unproven and that he won’t dominate Oliveira. Oliveira himself even said he’s fought tougher opponents and his coach argued that Makhachev’s greatest strength, his wrestling, won’t even be good enough to take Oliveira down. But for Mendez, Makhachev’s coach, that’s all just noise. Come fight night, he expects Makhachev to dominate the same way he has his previous 10 opponents.
“Well, first of all, he’s gonna take him down,’ Mendez told Submission Radio. “It’s just a matter of when, but he will take him down, and Charles is not gonna be able to stand. If Islam doesn’t want to stand, he will not, he’ll be taken down. He is second to Khabib in being able to take people down, and he will go down. Charles will go down. Charles is not known to be a wrestler. Also, keep in mind, Charles has got such a phenomenal jiu-jitsu game. In MMA, in pure jiu-jitsu, he’s probably got the best game in the lightweight division. So, why would he be afraid to go to the ground? He’s not. He wants to test himself there with Islam. And by all means, we’re fine with that too.
“The bottom line is, the thing about this fight is, wanna stand up? Okay, let’s go. Going to the ground? Okay, let’s go. So, we’ll see who can dominate where when that time comes. But we’re prepared to dominate in the standup, we’re prepared to dominate on the ground. And they are too. They’re well prepared. He’s a champion for a reason.”
Makhachev is the hand-picked successor to former champion and lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov, who vacated the title without ever having lost a fight. As such, the expectations on Makhachev are high, but according to Mendez, they are so for a reason. Part of his confidence in Makhachev heading into the lightweight title fight is what he’s seen in the practice room. And so at UFC 280, he expects Makhachev to show the world what he and Khabib already know.
“In all the history, since 2012, since Khabib’s been doing sparring with me in front of my eyes, there has been nobody that’s ever taken a round from him. No one’s ever won a sparring session. Not a sparring session with Khabib ever. Except one man. Islam,” Mendez said. “He’s the only one that has won rounds from Khabib. Never won a session, but he’s won rounds. And I’ve never seen that.
“So, obviously when Khabib talks about the next heir, he’s not saying something that he’s trying to make up and make people believe. He knows, like I know, how good his Islam is. That’s why he’s so confident in what he’s saying. Khabib’s not known to say something that he doesn’t mean. And he means it, I mean it. And now it’s time for Islam to go out there and shine and let everybody know what Khabib already knows and I know, that he’s the best right now. He is the best. And we have to prove it and we will prove it.”
Winning the title would only be the beginning for Makhachev. The No. 3-ranked lightweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings is on an impressive 10-fight winning streak, but has yet to fight many of the division’s top talent, meaning there are no shortage of available matchups for him as champion. One that seems to be top of mind for many is a grudge match with former champion Conor McGregor, who had one of the most heated rivalries of all time against Khabib. But for Mendez, he’d prefer another name that has been thrown in the lightweight title picture lately, the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
“For me the interesting one is Alex, because he’s on a tear, and he’s a great sportsman and he’s gonna keep it clean,” Mendez said. “And if you’re asking me what I would want and who, as a sports person, not as an entertainment, but if you’re talking about sports who deserves the right? A hundred percent him, one hundred percent. He’s a class act, he comes from a very reputable gym that’s got class coaches. And they stick up for their team. I like what they represent. I like the way they stick up for each other. How they’re like of band of brothers, just like my guys are a band of brothers. I respect them. A very, very high, very, very high opinion of those guys. Very high.”
The MMA Hour.
Aaron Pico in slow motion.
Alexander Volkanovski at the AFL final.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Conor McGregor on acting.
Also, Conor looking more and more like Liver King.
5 fights in 1 year. 5 first round finishes. 0 strikes absorbed. Nobody can do it like me. We headed to the top! Much love to all my supporters, bigger things on the way!— Bo Nickal (@NoBickal) September 28, 2022
Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski training together.
As usual the Top 10 Fighters don't want to fight me and I will not sit and wait for any of those guys. Unlike everyone else, I accept any bout they give me. I don't take easy fights and I will continue to fight the toughest guys in the division. https://t.co/lhSoVyI2xj— Arman Tsarukyan UFC (@ArmanUfc) September 29, 2022
That’s way to much handsome for one room.
Did anybody else grow up thinking quicksand would play a much bigger adversarial role in your adult life?— Chris Curtis The Action Man (@Actionman513) September 29, 2022
Just sitting here remembering that time I locked @bullyb170 ass up. Hope he having better luck playing Russian basketball because he ain’t good! I had a double double on this guy. Footage is available too so I’m not lying pic.twitter.com/fL7TQHjjSW— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) September 28, 2022
I can’t wait till u get to Abu Dhabi we’re having a rematch bring your cousins I’m bringing Khabib crew https://t.co/2eQZbRhIGC— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) September 29, 2022
Christian Lee (16-4) vs. Kiamrian Abbasov (23-5); ONE on Prime Video 4, Nov. 18.
Kayla Harrison (15-0) vs. Larissa Pacheco (18-4); PFL Championship, Nov. 25.
Dakota Ditcheva (6-0) vs. Katherine Corogenes (1-0); PFL Championship, Nov. 25.
Biaggio Ali Walsh (1-1) vs. Tom Graesser (0-0); PFL Championship, Nov. 25.
Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow.
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