This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 31, all eyes were on Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev (20-1). Makhachev was going for his eighth consecutive win in the lightweight division, and it wasn’t going to be easy. He was taking on top fifteen ranked Thiago Moises (15-5).
Like Makhachev, Moises is looked at as one of the bright prospects in the lightweight division. Three years younger than Makhachev, Moises was looking to shock the world by derailing the Dagestani Hype Train.
However, at UFC Vegas 31, Islam Makhachev showed the world why he was so special. Thiago Moises had some bright spots here and there, but for the most part, Saturday night was all Islam Makhachev.
Even when Moises would do something well, Makhachev would immediately counter with something better. In the middle rounds, it was Moises that actually engaged in the grappling. Moises actually landed a takedown, but was immediately reversed by Makhachev.
For the most part, it was a mauling from Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31. In the fourth round, Makhachev got in deep on a takedown and put Moises on his back. Makhachev transitioned to the back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 31?
With this win, it’s clear that Makhachev needs a step up in competition in the lightweight division. There should never be a scenario where he’s fighting guys outside of the top ten moving forward and I think the UFC realizes that.
Dan Hooker called out Makhachev for a fight in September today and that is a fight that I really like. However, I think there’s a better matchup at lightweight for Makhachev. I believe he should fight former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) next.
RDA was just the backup at UFC 264 and he’s ready to go. Makhachev needs a step up and it would be perfect for him to fight a former champion. The fight would say a lot about both men. It would tell us whether or not RDA is still a title contender and it would tell us whether Islam Makhachev is ready for a title shot.
I believe we are looking at a situation where the UFC will likely have Makhachev get at least two more wins before a title shot. If he gets a win over RDA, expect the promotion to push him straight into a title eliminator with one of the top guys.