Ex-champion Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) has finished Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje in title fights and will face Makhachev for the vacant lightweight belt in the UFC 280 main event on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi.
While Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) knows Oliveira is a skilled fighter, he thinks past opponents weren’t competent enough on the ground to challenge him.
“Everybody who says Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje or other guys – they’re old. They have money, these guys – they don’t want to challenge,” Makhachev said on ESPN’s “DC & RC.” “We have new blood – me, (Mateusz) Gamrot, Beneil Dariush. They’re really tough fights for him because Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje, they’re never grappling – they’re just striking. That’s why this is easy fight for him. But he knows Islam Makhachev very hard fight for him.”
Makhachev has no doubt that he’ll be able to take Oliveira down and isn’t threatened by the ground game of the UFC’s all-time leader in submission wins.
“I’m going to take him down very fast,” Makhachev said. “Listen, he finished all of his opponents and all his opponents are strikers. But Tony Ferguson has a little bit of grappling – he cannot finish him. Tony Ferguson a hard fight for him. They fought all five rounds because Tony Ferguson knows something about grappling – not too much, but he knows something.
“Of course I really believe (I’ll win) because he lose in the UFC seven times. He’s not going to be upset if he lose one more time. People finish him seven times in the UFC and this guy champion in my division. I’m very upset because of this.”