Following his dominant, one-sided victory over the surging puncher, Drew Dober at UFC 259 on Saturday night, Russian grappling phenom, Islam Makhachev has his sights fixed on former interim titleholder, Tony Ferguson for his next Octagon walk.
Steamrolling Elevation Fight Team mainstay, Dober with relative ease, American Kickboxing Academy product, Makhachev scored numerous takedowns to begin each round, threatening with armbars and crushing top-pressure, before locking up a third round arm-triangle victory.
Extending his winning spree to a whopping seven-straight fights, the Makhachkala native, who was joined by fellow teammate and undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner on Saturday, displayed some shrewd wrestling, including high-crotch single-legs, and outside trips to manhandle Dober to the canvas, before forcing an eventual tap from the Nebraska puncher in the third.
Holding the second-longest active win streak at 155-pounds beneath the number-three ranked fellow grappling standout, Charles Oliveira — Makhachev has sounded out long time rival of Nurmagomedov, the above mentioned, Ferguson as a “dream” fight for him — as he plans to “help” retire the Oxnard favourite.
“My dream fight is Tony (Ferguson) because we have some deal with him, like a couple of years now,” Makhachev told reporters following UFC 259 on Saturday. “He’s still, like, pressuring Khabib (Nurmagomedov). I don’t understand this guy, but I want to just help him retire. He is old, His mind is a little bit crazy. That’s why I just want to help him.“
Billed as a potential heir to the lightweight throne currently seated on by Nurmagomedov, Makhachev explained how he’s eager to prove to the community how Ferguson would’ve faltered against his teammate, given their similar grappling and sambo styles.
“I just want to show people how Khabib would take him (Ferguson) down, make him tired, make him tap,” Makhachev said. “Everybody talks like Tony is a hard fight for Khabib, but I never think like that because Khabib’s wrestling and grappling is a different level. Nobody has it like that.“
Despite the rather tongue-in-cheek expression from Makhachev that he wants to help Ferguson hang up his gloves, he complimented the veteran Californian, nevertheless.
“Tony is a very good fighter because he finished a lot of guys,” Makhachev said. “That’s why I just want to check my skills, and I know I can finish him.“
Notching his seventh consecutive win, Makhachev added Dober to a winning streak including Davi Ramos, Arman Tsarukyan, Kajan Johnson, Gleison Tibau, Nik Lentz and Chris Wade.
In the midst of a two-fight slide, former interim champion, Ferguson dropped a fifth round interim title matchup to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 last May, before suffering a one-sided unanimous judging defeat to the previously noted, Oliveira at UFC 256 in December.
Hoping to get back in the winning column at the next time of trying, Ferguson recently took his talents to Wildcard Boxing in Los Angeles, California — under the tutelage of renowned coach, Freddie Roach.