Last night at UFC Vegas 31, Islam Makhachev did what his cornman Khabib Nurmagomedov wanted him to do—dominate Thiago Moises and finish in his first UFC main event.
And now the former UFC lightweight champion has his eyes on a new goal for Makhachev, and an ambitious one at that. ‘The Eagle’ talks backstage at UFC Vegas 31 ESPN’< Told Brett Okamoto and Makhachev about their plans to get the Fighter of the Year award for 2021.
Khabib Nurmagomedov told me there are plans for Islam Makhachev to get another fight at the end of the year, get a finish, and be named Fighter of the Year. They lead 2-0 with two finishes so far. He has to beat some tough competition. Usman, Moreno, Nagano are on top, I would say.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 18, 2021
“Khabib Nurmagomedov told me Islam plans to fight another battle for Makhachev at the end of the year,” Okamoto wrote. -End award.
Makhachev has two finishes in two fights this year, including last night’s rear naked choke on Moises and a guillotine choke on Drew Dober.
As Okamoto noted, even if Nurmagomedov’s criteria are met, Makhachev still faces stiff competition for the title of Fighter of the Year.
When the UFC released its mid-year awards, UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman was announced as their top fighter. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ has two title defenses on hand in 2021, including a thunderous KO from Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261.
Along with Osman, Francis Nganou (who won the UFC heavyweight title in March), Charles Oliveira (who won the UFC lightweight belt in May), Max Holloway and Benil Darish were the top vote-getters for that award.
These votes were cast before Dustin Poirier defeated Conor McGregor for a second time in 2021, so you can expect “The Diamond” to be in any Fighter of the Year conversation when all is said and done.
For Makhachev to realistically stand a chance of being honored as the best fighter for the year, he’ll need some of his post-war callouts. Since defeating Moises, Makhachev has called off competition with Michael Chandler, Rafael dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson.