Russian UFC star handed long-awaited title shot


Islam Makhachev will take on Charles Oliveira in October for the vacant UFC lightweight title

Russian UFC star Islam Makhachev has pledged to bring the lightweight world title back to Dagestan after it was confirmed that he will fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant championship in the UFC 280 headliner in Abu Dhabi on October 22.

Makhachev, the fighter considered by many as the successor to teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC’s 155lbs fold, has won ten straight fights in the shark tank lightweight division to announce himself as a significant threat to anyone in the weight class.

Former champ Oliveira, meanwhile, has won eleven fights on the spin but was stripped of the world title after he came in a half-pound over his contracted weight ahead of scheduled title defence against Justin Gaethje in May.

Oliveira’s recent list of victims reads like a who’s who of the UFC lightweight division contenders: Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee have all fallen to the Brazilian submission specialist in recent times – with Ferguson the sole fighter among them to have lasted until the final bell.

Makhachev has been equally dominant – even if his wins have come against a lower caliber of opposition.

The Russian fighter, 30, has been vocal in calling for a title bout for some time now, and wrote on social media: “October 22, I’m bringing UFC Lightweight Belt back to Dagestan Inshallah.”

Oliveira will be the sternest test of his career. Makhachev has been near faultless in his UFC run to date, with a sole defeat in his debut fight against Adriano Martins in 2015 the only blemish on his professional ledger – but the Dagestan native has yet to have faced anyone with quite as robust an arsenal as the Brazilian.

The aforementioned Ferguson fight is the only time in more than four years that Oliveira hasn’t ended his opponent’s night early in the cage, with his record showing three knockouts and seven submissions during that time.

Makhachev, though, has long maintained that he – and not Oliveira – is the most dominant grappler in the division, and he will get his opportunity to prove that when the two top-ranked lightweights square off in just a few months’ time.

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