Islam Makhachev is entering the biggest fight of his career later tonight (Sat., Feb. 26, 2022) at UFC Vegas 49 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the lightweight contender is hoping to deliver in a memorable way.
Makhachev, who is currently riding a nine-fight win streak in the UFC’s jam-packed lightweight division, was originally expected to face Beneil Dariush in the main event. However, Dariush was forced to withdraw just two weeks out from the fight and was replaced by Bobby Green, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 271 earlier this month. While Green doesn’t hold the same division ranking as Dariush does Makhachev needed someone to fight after going through a long training camp.
“Honestly, when Beneil was injured, I told Ali [Abdelaziz, Makhachev’s manager] and he said the next day that nobody gave an answer, and I thought it wasn’t going to happen. Ali said, ‘Just Bobby Green give answer, he said he’s ready.’ I said let’s go,” Makhachev told reporters during UFC Vegas 49’s media day (via MMA Fighting). “It doesn’t matter who because the last three months [were] so hard for me. I prepared for Beneil, training so hard. Just give me someone.”
Luckily, Green is a true warrior and was willing to accept the fight that no other lightweight wanted to take, especially with only two weeks to prepare and coming off a 15-minute fight against Haqparast. “King” earned a ton of respect for saving UFC Vegas 49’s main event and Makhachev will be the first one to acknowledge his heart.
However, Makhachev still plans on exposing Green on the ground and asking him a few questions along the way. Sort of how Khabib Nurmagomedov used to speak with his opponents before choking them out or snapping their arm.
“This guy has big heart because he took this fight [with] one-week [notice],” Makhachev said. “He has good boxing style, and about wrestling and grappling, we will check.
“We’re gonna talk inside the cage. I’m gonna take him down and tell him, ‘Hey, let’s go. Get up.’ I’m gonna talk. He’s gonna talk with me when we’re beginning, striking, but when I’m gonna take him down, I’m gonna ask him a couple questions.”
Despite his canceled fight opposite Dariush, Makhachev still believes a win over Green at UFC Vegas 49 will be enough to secure his long-awaited lightweight title shot. Current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira is expected to defend his title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 this May, but after that Makhachev could find himself fighting for 155-pound gold.
“Of course, because it’s gonna be my 10-fight win streak,” Makhachev said. “I really believe this is key for title fight. I think Oliveira is going to beat Justin Gaethje, and 11-win streak vs. 10-win streak, this is going to be a big fight for all MMA fans.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 49 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
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Author: Dan Hiergesell