UFC Vegas 31: Moises calls Khabib greatest lightweight, ready for Makhachev

No.14 lightweight contender Thiago Moises feels his UFC Vegas 31 opponent Islam Makhachev, ranked No.9 in the division, is tough but not unbeatable like Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Thiago Moises in action.   -  UFC MEDIA

After a disappointing end to the lightweight clash between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264 last week, two more top-15 contenders from the division -- Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises -- will square off this weekend at UFC Vegas 31.

The 14th-ranked Moises was initially surprised when the Ultimate Fighting Championship offered him a bout against Makhachev, who several fans and pundits consider a fighter with the potential to become the lightweight champion. But he is now confident of putting on a show on Saturday.

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"I'm happy about this opportunity, which shows that Dana White likes my fights. I didn't think twice and accepted the fight right away. I didn't expect to fight him. I thought he'd fight a top-five opponent, so I was surprised," said Moises ahead of the main event in Nevada.

The 26-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist is on a three-fight winning streak and has previously featured in a few five-round encounters during his stint at Legacy Fighting Alliance. Meanwhile, this will be the first 25-minute contest in Makhachev's MMA career.

"I had done five rounds three times before, so I'm used to it, and I think this is going to be an advantage for me. He did not do that before. I think everything is falling into place -- my mindset, my skills, I'm getting more mature," Moises told Sportstar.

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"I think he's a great opponent, a great challenge. He is a good striker. His strength, of course, is the takedowns, but he has good grappling as well. I think that's why nobody wants to fight him. We grow by taking on challenges, and I'm ready for this."

No.9 lightweight Makhachev, who holds a 19-1 record, trains with former champ and the unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov at American Kickboxing Academy. Both of them are known for their dominant wrestling-heavy styles. However, Moises feels he's got all bases covered.

"I know that he's going to come in and grapple. Even though you know what he's going to try to do, it's not easy to prepare. But I'm a well-rounded fighter as well. I trust myself and my skills. I have the best team behind me, and I believe that I have all the tools to beat him," he added.

"My focus is going to be striking. I trained a lot of jiu-jitsu for this fight, I trained a lot of wrestling too, and I'm ready for that. Hopefully, we can give a good show to the fans."

After retiring from the sport in October 2020, Khabib has accompanied his teammates to their bouts as a coach. He is undefeated in that role in 2021. Moises isn't too worried about the Russian star's possible presence as a cornerman for Makhachev.

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"We're ready mentally for that. Looking across the cage, people might favour Islam in the fight, but I visualized that a lot. So, it's not going to be a problem. Khabib is not going to step in the cage -- it's going to be just Islam and me," he claimed.

Moises even lauded Khabib, adding that it was too early to compare Makhachev with him.

"I think Khabib has a higher pace than him. He doesn't stop and pressurizes his opponent. I think he's more technical on the feet too. For me, Khabib is the best lightweight of all time. Islam is still not close to Khabib's level," he concluded.

 

Watch UFC Fight Night - Makhachev vs Moises on July 18, 2021, LIVE on Sony Ten 2 & Sony Ten 3 (Hindi) channels from 7:30 AM IST.

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