Father’s Plan: Islam Makhachev Becomes Champion at UFC 280
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Father’s Plan: Islam Makhachev Becomes Champion at UFC 280

By Abdullah Ouazri
Sunday, October 23rd 2022, 5:29AM, about 2 months ago

The champion has a name, and his name is Islam Makhachev.

The months leading up to UFC 280 were filled with uncanny predictions from team Dagestan as to what would go down between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira. While many fans took it as disrespect, everything came to fruition on fight night.

I’m gonna knock (Charles) down, follow him to the ground, and submit him.
- Islam Makhachev perfectly predicts his win at UFC 280.

To understand the significance of Islam Makhachev’s win at 280, we must return to where it all began, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov

Abdulamanap has now produced 2 UFC champions. Credits to: Zuffa LLC
Abdulamanap has now produced 2 UFC champions. Credits to: Zuffa LLC

The late father of all-time great Khabib Nurmagomedov was the head coach and role model to the new Lightweight Champion. Islam was his ‘favorite pupil’ according to Khabib, and he had long sung his praises as the best fighter in the world.

Dating back to an interview with RT Sport in 2019, Abdulmanap told the world that his son Khabib would retire as the undefeated Lightweight champion and the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and that soon after, Makhachev would do the same.

“Islam can beat anyone. After Khabib, he will be the champion. I have no reason to worry.” - Nurmagomedov explains his confidence in his disciple.

Unfortunately, he would not live to see the fruits of his labor ripen. The legendary coach passed away in July 2020 following a series of Covid-19 induced heart complications. His death left the MMA world in a moment of silence to commemorate the gone icon.

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Continuing The Legacy

Khabib Nurmagomedov continues the legacy of his late father. Credtis to: Zuffa LLC
Khabib Nurmagomedov continues the legacy of his late father. Credtis to: Zuffa LLC

Shortly after his father’s death, Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his title one last time against Justin Gaethje with an all-time grand performance, solidifying himself as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and fulfilling his father’s wish.

Immediately after the win, an emotional Khabib crumbled to the floor in tears. He vowed never to fight again without his father by his side and retired that night. The end of his fighting career marked the beginning of a new pursuit, a quest to continue his father’s legacy and create new champions, 1 in particular—Islam Makhachev.

Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev prepares to become champion at UFC 280. Credits to: Craig Kidwell USA-TODAY Sports
Islam Makhachev prepares to become champion at UFC 280. Credits to: Craig Kidwell USA-TODAY Sports

For years, Islam floated near the bottom of the Lightweight rankings, fighting just often enough to stay within the division’s top 15 but not get too close to his brother’s title. After Khabib stepped away, though, things changed. Islam fought four times in 11 months, earning four finishes and catapulting himself into the top 5. This sealed him a shot at the Lightweight title against Charles Oliveira, and a chance to manifest the visions of his late father figure.

The buildup to the biggest fight of his life was not a quiet one, as he and his team made clear their intentions of effortlessly capturing the championship. No words were spared when mentioning the gamelan.

Ride (Charles) like a horse, make him tired and make him give up.
- Khabib Nurmagomedov reveals his plan for Islam Makhachev at UFC 280.

The fight played out to be as one-sided as you could imagine, with Islam getting the better of the striking and grappling in round 1 before knocking Oliveira down and submitting him in round 2, finally executing Abdulmanap’s lifelong plan.

The Lightweight division is now ruled by an iron fist, but the next challenge may be the most difficult yet, as pound-for-pound #1 and Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will stake his claim to the title against Makhachev at UFC 284 in his native Australia.

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