Islam Makhachev is undeterred in his fight against Charles Oliveira.
In the main event of UFC 280 on October 22 in Abu Dhabi, Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) challenges Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) for the vacant lightweight title.
The promotion's all-time champion in submission victories and total finishes, Oliveira, is Makhachev's opponent, but the Sambo champion is unfazed.
“His last three or four opponents, they knock him down and nobody goes to grappling,” Makhachev said in an interview with The National. “Nobody tried to finish him there. Nobody tried to do some ground-and-pound. That’s why nobody from these opponents could stop him.
“But I’m not scared of his jiu-jitsu skills because I have good skills in Sambo and grappling and will give him a hard time in striking. That’s why I’m going to knock him down and try to finish him. Because this guy has most finishes in the UFC, my goal is I have to finish him. I’m going to take his record.”
Head instructor of the American Kickboxing Academy Javier Mendez praised Makhachev's striking and referred to him as the greatest lightweight of all time. However, Oliveira demonstrated that he poses a threat above the mat by knocking out Michael Chandler and dropping Justin Gaethje prior to his submission.
Despite Oliveira entering their battle with an aura of invincibility, Makhachev recognized, despite his own confidence in himself.
“Charles is very dangerous,” Makhachev said. “He always finishes his opponent, and he’s dangerous in the striking and on the ground. But I believe in my skills. I’m ready for the fight standing up or on the ground – it doesn’t matter.
“I don’t think this is the biggest test (of my career). Maybe I’ve beat some guy who has more skills. But right now, he’s the champion. And, right now, at this moment in his career, because he has a good win streak – he had many losses before and he finished all his opponents – he feels like nobody can stop him. But Oct. 22, I’m going to come to the cage and stop him there.”