Khabib Nurmagomedov expects Islam Makhachev to 'roll over' Charles Oliveira at UFC 280

Lightweight title on the line in the headline event in Abu Dhabi on October 22

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Khabib Nurmagomedov is convinced Islam Makhachev will dominate Charles Oliveira in their title bout at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi next week, saying his long-time teammate is now at his peak.

Makhachev, beaten once in 23 professional MMA fights, takes on Oliveira in the headliner at Etihad Arena on October 22, where the two meet for the vacant lightweight crown.

The Dagestani athlete, who rides a 10-fight win streak, goes into the bout as the division’s No 4-ranked contender. Oliveira, meanwhile, has won his past 11 fights in the promotion to sit at the top of the standings. He was the division's most recent lightweight champion.

The Brazilian, who claimed the vacant belt last year following Nurmagomedov’s retirement as champion in Abu Dhabi in late 2020, was stripped of the title for missing weight ahead of UFC 274 in May.

Speaking to UFC Russia released on Wednesday, Nurmagomedov, who now corners compatriot and childhood friend Makhachev, said: “I think Islam is more skilled than Oliveira. Secondly, his experience as an amateur fighter.

“Also, he’s at his peak. Islam isn’t 23, 26 or 27. He’s 30. A week after the fight, he’ll be 31. It’s the best time for any athlete. It’s a time when your mental and physical state should be in synergy.

"Sometimes your mental state is high, but your physical state is going down. Or when you’re 27 and at your physical peak, but mentally you’re not there yet, because you’re just 27, not 31. And Islam is at his peak.

"I think Islam is better overall. Of course, there are some potential dangers that we’re working on where Islam needs to be careful. Other than that, Islam should roll over him.”

Nurmagomedov, 34, retired unbeaten following his victory against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. His professional record was 29-0.

Nurmagomedov retires after beating Gaethje at UFC 254

Updated: October 13, 2022, 8:43 AM