According to Khabib Nurmagomedov, there is plenty of added incentive for Islam Makhachev if he can finish Beneil Dariush.

Streaking contenders Makhachev (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) and Dariush (21-4-1 MMA, 15-4-1 UFC) will meet in a pivotal lightweight clash which headlines UFC Fight Night on Feb. 26.

Not only does Nurmagomedov expect Makhachev to emerge as the next title challenger with a win, but if can get Dariush out of there before the final bell, “The Eagle” says the UFC will double up on his protege’s bonus money.

“Sometimes you have to build your name, and Beneil and Islam, this is truly and 100 percent a No. 1 contender fight,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “Who’s going to win? They’re going to fight for the title, and UFC told Islam, if (he beats) Dariush, he’s going to fight for the title. And UFC told – you know, like what’s interesting, if Islam finishes him, they’re going to give him like double bonus. It’s very interesting.

“This is like just private news. I just want to share with you and fans because it’s very interesting, and UFC really, really wants this fight, and they told him if you’re going to finish him, they’re going to give him double bonus. I don’t know about Dariush’s situation.”

Nurmagomedov ruffled some feathers when he told Justin Gaethje to “Shut up” and admit that Makhachev deserves the title shot. While he respects Gaethje, he stands by his words and even thinks Makhachev and Dariush are more worthy title challengers than Dustin Poirier and Gaethje.

“I truly believe these two guys, they are best in the world,” Nurmagomedov said. “This is the two best lightweights in the world right now, and it’s going to be a very, very exciting fight for me, for us, for Islam. Who’s going to win here, they’re going to fight for the title, like middle of next year.

“Like any any of them, like Islam or Dariush, they right now, they deserve to fight for the title right now. But we have like some big names on lightweights like, you cannot say no for Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje. These two guys, they have very big names, but like fighters, in my opinion, they are better: Dariush and Islam. These two guys, they’re better than Dustin and Justin. It’s just my opinion, you know, but they have big names, and we know this game, and sometimes it’s not enough, like nine win streak or seven win streak. It’s not enough to fight for the title.”


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