Khabib Nurmagomedov sees Islam Makhachev sending a message to the rest of the lightweight division if he can stop the durable Rafael dos Anjos.

Makhachev (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) meets dos Anjos (30-13 MMA, 19-13 UFC) at UFC 267 on Oct. 30 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The event is expected to air on ABC.

Currently riding an eight-fight winning streak, Makhachev has run through his opposition and finally will get the opportunity to face a marquee name when he takes on former UFC lightweight champion dos Anjos.

But despite dos Anjos having lost four of his past six, Nurmagomedov admits  he’s a little nervous for Makhachev.

“Dos Anjos is very experienced,” Nurmagomedov told RT Sport. “He’s been in five-rounders a lot of times. He fought a lot of good fighters. … Look, he fought me. He fought Kamaru (Usman), (Colby) Covington, Paul (Felder), a bunch of fighters. He fought (Eddie) Alvarez. He has a lot of experience. In such big fights, experience is like a trump card up your sleeve.”

Since dropping back down to 155 pounds, dos Anjos outlasted Paul Felder in a five-round “Fight of the Night” battle in November 2020. The Brazilian hasn’t been finished since losing his title to Eddie Alvarez in 2016 and has only tapped once in his career – to Clay Guida because of an injured jaw from a punch – despite fighting a slew of strong grapplers.

And with Makhachev being a grappling specialist himself, Nurmagomedov thinks it would be a huge feather in his protege’s cap if he’s able to finish dos Anjos on the ground.

“So here is how I see the fight going, because I have fought dos Anjos, too,” Nurmagomedov said. “I would like Islam to take him down in the first round. Impose some wrestling pressure on him – then he will be ready. It would be great if Islam finished him on the ground because I can’t remember anyone finishing dos Anjos on the ground. Yes he was dominated, but not finished.

“Covington, Kamaru, myself – we all dominated him on the ground, but could not finish him. I think if Islam finishes him and becomes actually the first fighter to do so against him, it would be a huge statement.”


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