BOSTON – After a quick fight, Islam Makhachev is ready for a relatively quick turnaround.
Makhachev (15-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) kicked off Saturday’s UFC 220 in thunderous fashion, needing less than one minute to spoil Gleison Tibau’s (33-13 MMA, 16-11 UFC) octagon return. It seems Makhachev already had a name in mind when he walked out in Boston’s TD Garden, because he was quick to fire it – in English, no less.
“In the top 15, there are a lot of bum opponents,” Makhachev told the UFC after his fight. “I think the No. 1 bum opponent is Kevin Lee. UFC, give me Kevin Lee.”
Backstage with reporters, he elaborated on the callout.
“Kevin Lee (says) about Russian fighters a lot of trash talk,” Makhachev said after the bout, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. “Why not? I want to beat him. I deserve an opponent like top 10, top 15.”
OK, there wasn’t that much elaboration there. But, after reiterating whom he’d like to fight, he did expand on when and where he’d like to fight: at April 7’s UFC 223 – non-coincidentally, the same card on which teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov is set to meet interim champ Tony Ferguson for a stab at 155-pound gold.
“If the UFC gives me a fight in Brooklyn, the same card as Khabib, I start training tomorrow,” Makhachev said.
One can see why he’d like to combine training camps with “The Eagle.” As it turns out, there are a couple of up sides to training with an undefeated lightweight who’s made a hobby out of casually squashing high-level competition in the cage.
“After sparring with Khabib, everybody like, top-15, I think (will be) easy for me,” Makhachev said.
Lee remains unbooked since the UFC 216 encounter that earned Ferguson the interim title. He recently told MMAjunkie Radio that he was taking some time and aimed toward a July return.
Makhachev, who ended an almost year-long layoff on Saturday, is now on a three-fight streak, following decision wins over Chris Wade and Nik Lentz. His career’s lone loss took place in the octagon: he was knocked out by Adriano Martins at UFC 192, in October 2015.
Now, more than two years after falling victim to a well-placed hand, he got to be the one delivering it.
“I know this is MMA, this is not boxing,” Makhachev said. “This is small gloves. One time, my opponent give me like this punch. Now I give Gleison this punch.”
To hear more from Makhachev, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Islam Makhachev ready to start training to join Khabib Nurmagomedov on UFC 223 card