Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov wants No. 4-ranked lightweight contender Islam Makhachev to get more respect for his accomplishments inside the Octagon. “The Eagle” even tracked down promotion president Dana White to demand a 155-pound title shot for his Dagestani stablemate.
No. 5-ranked Michael Chandler doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
“Nothing against Islam, you say he looks great, you say he looks unbeatable at times, but he hasn’t really fought anybody,” Chandler told MMA Fighting. “That’s really the truth. He beat No. 14 and then he beat Dan Hooker, who was on a three or four-fight losing streak. Now people will say, ‘Well, one of your wins was against Dan Hooker, what are you talking about?’ I fought Dan Hooker at a different time. He had just gone 25 minutes with Dustin Poirier, who at that time was the No. 2 lightweight on the entire planet. I’m not saying that [Islam] is not that good. We just can’t say that he’s that good yet. It’s premature praise.”
The feeling appears to be mutual, based on these recent comments.
Makhachev (22-1), the winner of 10 straight with six finishes, will challenge former champion Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight strap — stripped in the wake of this debacle — atop the UFC 280 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sat., Oct. 22, 2022 inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
If Makhachev prevails, he could end up facing Chandler somewhere down the line, assuming “Iron” is able to get past Dustin Poirier in their lightweight showdown at UFC 281. That’s a fight that could also get booked if both Makhachev and Chandler lose, so there’s a lot on the line over the next few weeks.
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