Islam Makhachev has confidently named the round in which he believes he will finish Charles Oliveira when the two lightweight fighters face off for the division’s title at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on October 22.
Brazilian former champion Oliveira was stripped of the belt on the scales for coming in half a pound over weight before his meeting with Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in May.
After disposing of the American in the first round in front of his hometown crowd in Phoenix, Oliveira immediately secured the chance to grab back the 155lbs strap with only Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protege and rising 22-1 contender Makhachev standing in his way.
Sharing an official promo of the upcoming fight on Twitter, Makhachev laid out his game plan in full for one of the most anticipated bouts in years.
“First round warm up, second round drag him to deep water, third round get business done,” Makachev said, adding: “Inshallah. Can’t wait for Oct 22.”
The 30-year-old’s words have echoes of those coach Nurmagomedov uttered ahead of his last ever fight in the octagon against Gaethje in October 2020 at UFC 254.
“Justin is a very nice guy and good opponent for me, but when Octagon close he have to be ready not only boxing match, I’m not Dustin [Poirier] or Tony [Ferguson],” Nurmagomedov said. “I will take him to the deepest ocean and drown him, InshaAllah.”
With Nurmagomedov finishing Gaethje with a brutal submission in the second round, his prediction proved true.
Minutes after the win, the Russian famously retired with an unblemished record of 29-0, honoring a vow he made to his mother to stop fighting after father and coach Abdulmanap had died of Covid complications earlier that year.
Though Oliveira has accused the Makhachev camp of “arrogance” and warned that it will trigger the downfall of the fighter, the Sao Paulo state native has also been vocal on how he thinks the fight will pan out.
“You can be sure it won’t go past the first round,” he told Brazilian outlet Ag Fight recently. “I’ll be moving forward all the time, as I said. I have firepower in my hands. And my Jiu-Jitsu, you know very well.”
It could be concluded that both men might be on to something. Across 65 combined fights, neither has been past the third round.
In the elite, 33-8 Oliveira, who is unbeaten in his last 11 outings, put in arguably his most impressive performance against Poirier at UFC 269 where he looked close to being knocked out but held on to deliver a rear-naked choke submission at the beginning of the third round.
Last time out, however, he also soaked up bombs from Gaethje before pulling off the same signature move on the two-time title challenger and forcing him to tap out.
At UFC 280, though, fans could expect a fascinating showdown on the mat between two experts from hotbeds of their respective disciplines when Brazilian jiu-jitsu genius Oliveira meets Dagestani wrestling maestro Makhachev.