After another dominant win at UFC Vegas 31, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

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.

Islam Makhachev dominates and submits Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31

In the main event of UFC Vegas 31 we saw a lightweight showdown between two top fifteen contenders. Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev (19-1) was headlining his first event as he was taking on the surging Thiago Moises (15-4).

Thiago Moises was making his seventh UFC appearance tonight. Moises has gone 4-1 in his last five fights. Since losing the first round to Michael Johnson last year, Moises has really flipped the switch. He submitted Johnson in the second round then dominated Bobby Green and Alexander Hernandez.

At just 26 years old, Moises is really coming into his own. That said, he had a nightmare to deal with at UFC Vegas 31. It is a very popular take in the MMA world to say that Islam Makhachev looks like a future UFC champion.

He is the protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov and he looks like he can be that dominant. Makhachev is the total package and even looks like he could be more advanced than the former undisputed lightweight champion.

He possesses that same dominant grappling style as Khabib, but it’s not a stretch at all to say he possesses better striking. Makhachev has gone 8-1 in the UFC and every time we see him he looks more and more dominant.

UFC Vegas 31 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 31 main event starts with a touch of the gloves. Moises immediately takes the center as he starts with feints. However, he’s immediately backed up by Makhachev who takes the center and throws a headkick.

Low kick lands for Makhachev. Moises tries to counter with a right hand but nothing lands. Big right power kick thrown by Moises, but it’s blocked by Makhachev. Pressure from Makhachev and the two men clinch against the fence.

Moises actually gets the better of the position, but Makhachev immediately breaks the clinch. Body kick lands for Moises. Big body kick lands for Makhachev. Beautiful combination lands for Islam Makhachev.

Another good combination from Makhachev and Moises forces a clinch. Moises is pressing Makhachev against the fence, but Makhachev is landing nice knees as he defends. Makhachev uses his strength to pick Moises up and slam him to the ground.

Moises is able to work back to guard after Makhachev started in halfguard. A few good elbows land for Islam Makhachev. The round comes to a close and it’s 1-0 Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31.

Round 2

Heading into the second round at UFC Vegas 31 and Makhachev’s corner is asking for another takedown. Moises starts the striking as he works his jab. Makhachev moves forward with pressure, but Moises pushes forward and lands a nice right hand.

Power kick thrown by Moises. Makhachev lands a nice body kick of his own and then forces a clinch. Moises reverses the clinch position and presses Makhachev against the fence. Moises gets deep in on a double leg and takes down Makhachev.

However, Makhachev immediately reverses the position and ends up on top. Moises spins, but Makhachev takes his back. Makhachev starts working knees to the back of the thigh and you can tell that Makhachev is looking for a choke.

Heavy back pressure from Islam Makhachev here. Makhachev softening Moises up here with big shots as he continues looking for the choke. Makhachev gets the mount in the final seconds and nearly gets an armbar. 2-0 Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31.

Round 3

Entering the third round at UFC Vegas 31 and Thiago Moises has to keep this fight standing. Makhachev starts the striking with a low kick here in the third round. Moises presses forward but eats a counter from Makhachev.

Body kick lands for Thiago Moises. Check right hook lands for Islam Makhachev. More pressure here from Makhachev and he lands a nice straight left hand. Combination from Makhachev and Moises forces a clinch.

Moises presses Makhachev against the fence and he appears to be looking for a takedown. Makhachev almost gets taken down, but he’s able to keep it standing. However, Moises maintains the dominant position in the clinch.

Makhachev looks for trips, but nothing so far. Makhachev reverses the position and lands two beautiful knees to the face of Moises. Moises tries to keep it standing, but Makhachev just throws him down to the ground.

Makhachev gets his back, but Moises reverses the position. Moises attacks a leg, but Makhachev remains calm. Moises keeps trying to crank it but the round comes to a close. Much better round for Moises, but I still think Makhachev takes it at UFC Vegas 31.

Round 4

Entering the fourth round at UFC Vegas 31 and Thiago Moises really needs to turn things around. The fourth round starts with pressure from Moises who throws two big right hands that just miss. Makhachev counters with his own left hand.

Nice leg kick lands for Moises. Makhachev times a double beautifully and slams Moises down. Moises attempted a triangle, but Makhachev settles into the guard. Makhachev starts working his ground and pound with three minutes left in the round.

Makhachev lands a big elbow and it forces Moises to move. Moises tries to force a scramble, but Makhachev takes his back. Makhachev goes right back to work with the ground and pound from the back mount.

Islam Makhachev locks up a rear naked choke and it’s deep. Moises taps and this one is over.

Islam Makhachev def. Thiago Moises by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 4

UFC Vegas 31 Preview: Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises

In the main event of UFC Vegas 31 we will see a lightweight showdown between two top fifteen contenders. Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev (19-1) gets his first headlining fight as he takes on the surging Thiago Moises (15-4) tomorrow night.

Thiago Moises is making his seventh UFC appearance tomorrow night. After earning a contract with the promotion on Dana White’s Contender Series, Moises at a young age was thrown right to the wolves in taking on Beneil Dariush in his first fight.

Since losing that fight to Dariush, Moises has gone 4-1 in the UFC. Since losing the first round to Michael Johnson last year, Moises has really flipped the switch. He submitted Johnson in the second round then dominated Bobby Green and Alexander Hernandez.

At just 26 years old, Moises is really coming into his own. That said, he has a nightmare to deal with at UFC Vegas 31. It is a very popular take in the MMA world to say that Islam Makhachev looks like a future UFC champion.

He is the protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov and he looks like he can be that dominant. Makhachev is the total package and even looks like he could be more advanced than the former undisputed lightweight champion.

He possesses that same dominant grappling style as Khabib, but it’s not a stretch at all to say he possesses better striking. Makhachev has gone 8-1 in the UFC and every time we see him he looks more and more dominant.

UFC Vegas 31 Prediction

We are going to learn a lot about both of these guys tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 31. For Moises, we are going to learn just how good he really is. In the case of Makhachev, we are going to see how well he handles the pressure of being a huge favorite in a main event.

Moises has incredible jiu jitsu and we’ve seen him show off impressive striking. He’s going to need all of his tools to be sharp at UFC Vegas 31. I will say that Thiago Moises can win this fight tomorrow night and he has the skills to do it.

However, it’s an incredible tall order. While he has great jiu jitsu, I don’t think he’s ever experienced someone with the top game and pressure of Makhachev. If Makhachev gets on top tomorrow night, I just don’t see Moises pulling off a submission.

While Moises has looked better than ever, I think we are going to see a showcase at UFC Vegas 31. I’m expecting a statement win for Islam Makhachev as he continues his surge towards the elites of the division. Expect to see a Khabib-Esque performance tomorrow from his protégé.

Prediction: Islam Makhachev by TKO – Round 3

UFC books Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises

The UFC has finalized a big matchup in the lightweight division pitting two top prospects against each other. Brazil’s Thiago Moises (15-4) will try to stop the hype train of Islam Makhachev (19-1).

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto confirmed the fight last night with UFC President Dana White. The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. This is a massive opportunity for Thiago Moises.

Moises is not currently ranked in the lightweight division. However, he has won his last three fights. His wins include victories over Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez.

While he doesn’t have a spot in the UFC rankings, these wins have him knocking on the door. His opponent is being looked at as a future UFC champion and if Moises can pull off the upset, it will say a lot about him as a prospect.

UFC return for Makhachev

Islam Makhachev just looks like he’s going to be a UFC lightweight champion. He fights very similar to his training partner turned coach Khabib Nurmagomedov. Of course, Nurmagomedov retired undefeated as the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.

Makhachev has great striking and of course he has his Dagestani wrestling. The last time we saw Makhachev was at UFC 259 when he took on Drew Dober. Makhachev completed dominated the fight and submitted Dober in the third round.

With that win, Makhachev has now won seven fights in a row. To be honest, I’m a little surprised this is the direction the promotion decided to go. I figured Makhachev would be in to fight someone in the UFC’s top ten.

In terms of rankings, this is actually a step back as Dober is still ranked in the top fifteen and Moises is not ranked. This almost has the feel of a tune-up fight just to keep Islam Makhachev active.

Whatever the UFC’s reason was, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Makhachev will be back in July and he should be a massive favorite to pick up his eighth straight victory.

UFC Vegas 9 Preview: Will Alistair Overeem or Augusto Sakai take a step forward in the heavyweight division

The UFC returns tomorrow night for their ninth fight night from the APEX. In the main event of the evening, Alistair Overeem (46-18, 1 NC) will be taking on Augusto Sakai (15-1-1). Let’s take a dive into the main card of UFC Vegas 9.

Overeem & Sakai look to emerge as top UFC contenders

In the main event of the evening, we have a battle between these two top nine UFC heavyweights. Overeem and Sakai are both looking to take another step forward towards a shot at the division’s best on Saturday night.

Alistair Overeem has been fighting for 21 years which is absolutely insane to think about. He’s fought the best of the best in every organization he’s ever competed in from Pride to Strikeforce to the UFC.

Overeem doesn’t have many weaknesses outside of his chin. He’s great on the feet and he’s great on the ground. Again, he really doesn’t have areas of weakness outside of that chin of his. Of his 18 losses, 14 of them have come by knockout.

In his last fight, Overeem was rocked early and dropped by Walt Harris. At first, it looked like Overeem was going to suffer his second straight knockout loss, but he weathered the storm. He would go on to finish a tired Harris in the second round. At 40 years old, Overeem has said this is his last run towards UFC gold.

Augusto Sakai has won all four of his fights since making it into the UFC. The only loss on Sakai’s record is a split decision loss to Cheick Kongo back in Bellator. Inside the octagon, Sakai has defeated the likes of: Blagoy Ivanov, Marcin Tybura, and Andrei Arlovski.

Sakai isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but his speed is deceptive. He moves pretty quick, and he’s got good pop on his shots. 11 of his 15 wins have come by knockout. In watching Sakai’s fights in the UFC, he’s either going to finish you, or it’s going to be razor close.

In analyzing this fight, it looks like a clear win for Overeem on paper. I just don’t see anywhere where I could say Sakai has an advantage. Sakai has never been finished, and I don’t see him getting finished in this one.

That being said, with Sakai’s power and Overeem’s chin, this fight is always one shot away from ending. I hate predicting Overeem fights because based on skill, you would pick him often, but that chin makes every pick feel uneasy. Over five rounds, Sakai will have his chance to finish it, but I’ll lean towards skill on this one.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

Ovince St. Preux vs Alonzo Menifield

After one weird fight at heavyweight, Ovince St. Preux (24-14) heads back to the UFC‘s light heavyweight division against Alonzo Menifield (9-1) in the co-main event of the evening.

OSP has been a consistent light heavyweight contender over the years. He’s got good power, good submissions, and good wrestling. He’s used those tools to get wins over guys like Corey Anderson, Shogun Rua, and Yushin Okami.

OSP most notably stepped in for Daniel Cormier to fight Jon Jones at UFC 197 for the interim light heavyweight title. While Jones won the fight, OSP at least proved that he could stand in there with the greatest of all time.

St. Preux made the choice to try to move up to heavyweight in his last fight back in May against Ben Rothwell. While OSP had moments, his lack of activity led to his split decision loss. After one attempt, it’s back to the 205 well for OSP.

Heading into UFC 250, Alonzo Menifield was 9-0 with all nine wins coming via stoppage. Six of those wins came in the first round and he never saw a third round. That all changed that night.

Devin Clark was able to withstand the power and drag Menifield into a decision fight. We saw that Menifield does not have a style that carries well over three rounds and Clark got the decision victory.

With Menifield, you know what you’re going to get. He’s a world beater in the first round and even early in the second, but if you can survive that, you should be okay. The opening minutes will say a lot about the outcome.

Can Menifield catch OSP and put him away or can St. Preux drag Menifield into some deep water. St. Preux has only been finished twice in his UFC career with the last one coming in 2016 to Jimi Manuwa.

I keep going back and forth because I can see both men winning. I can easily see Menifield getting the knockout, and I can also see OSP surviving to get a decision. With no confidence at all, I’m going to say OSP gets dropped early, but is able to survive and win the final two rounds to edge Menifield in the co-main event.

Prediction: Ovince St. Preux by Unanimous Decision

Michel Pereira vs Zelim Imadaev

The third fight on the main card of UFC Vegas 9 is one I’m very excited for. We have a welterweight contest between Michel Pereira (23-11, 2 NC) and Zelim Imadaev (8-2). If you love a striking battle, this should be the fight for you.

Simply put, Pereira is an absolute wild man when he fights. I mean how many fighters have you seen do a backflip and dance in the middle of a UFC fight? Not many I’m assuming. Well, we’ve seen Pereira do that in his fights.

Despite the antics, extremely solid striking and good power hide behind the moves. Pereira entered the UFC with a big knockout over Danny Roberts. He then laid an egg against Tristan Connelly where he gassed himself early with all of his antics.

In his last contest, Pereira was dominating Diego Sanchez. However, Pereira hit Sanchez with an illegal knee in the third round. Now, I’m not trying to disrespect Sanchez, but it was obvious that he was fine but took the DQ victory by telling the ref he couldn’t continue. I’m not holding that loss against Pereira.

Zelim Imadaev entered the UFC with a ton of hype. The Russian had an impressive 8-0 record on the regional scene with all eight wins coming by knockout. After having all that hype, it’s quickly faded as he’s gone 0-2 on the big stage.

Imadaev does have very good striking and very good power. His boxing is very crisp, he just hasn’t looked great in his first two UFC fights. He lost a decision to Max Griffin then was knocked out by Danny Roberts. His back is against the wall in this one.

I believe this fight is going to end with someone staring at the lights. The big question is, who is going to land the big shot first. I could see either man doing it, but I’m going out on a limb and saying the wildman from Brazil is going to land something shocking early to take it.

Prediction: Michel Pereira by TKO – Round 1

Brian Kelleher vs Kevin Natividad

The second fight of the main card features a featherweight contest between Brian Kelleher (21-11) and UFC newcomer, Kevin Natividad (9-1). Kelleher was supposed to fight Ricky Simon, but a cornerman for Simon tested positive for COVID-19 causing Simon to withdraw.

Kelleher is looking to bounce back after his loss to Cody Stamann back at UFC 250. Prior to that loss, Kelleher had won two straight fights by stoppage. Kelleher is very well rounded, and he’s been in there with some of the best guys.

Originally a bantamweight in the UFC, Kelleher moved up to a more natural featherweight. The move to featherweight has paid off for Kelleher. He has good striking, and he’s good on the ground. This fight can’t go anywhere that would make Kelleher feel uncomfortable.

Natividad is making his debut after his fifth straight win in the last two years. He normally fights on bantamweight, but when the UFC calls with a fight, you take the fight. Natividad just fought back in July where he knocked out Kyle Estrada in LFA.

Natividad has very good striking and good footwork. He has a reach advantage in this fight which can really help him out. Natividad strikes well from the pocket, and he does a fantastic job of striking down the middle with his shots.

Despite moving up in weight and taking the fight on short notice, I think Natividad has a great chance to pull off the upset here. Kelleher was training for a completely different style of opponent which is never ideal.

That being said, it’s a lot to ask of Natividad to make a successful UFC debut against a guy like Kelleher. I believe this fight is going to be razor close, and I could see either getting their hand raised. However, I’m going with experience on this one.

Prediction: Brian Kelleher by Split Decision

Thiago Moises vs Jalin Turner

Kicking off the UFC Vegas 9 main card is a lightweight matchup between prospects Thiago Moises (13-4) and Jalin Turner (9-5). Both of these fighters will try to make it two wins in a row tomorrow night.

Thiago Moises enters this contest coming off of a win against Michael Johnson in his last fight back in May. Johnson was winning the fight early on, but Moises was able to lock up a submission that got him the victory.

Moises has a massive advantage once this fight touches the ground. Given how long Turner is, it will be easier for Moises to try to lock up a limb once the fight touches the ground. I’m expecting Moises to push forward early looking to get the fight to the ground.

Jalin Turner is astonishingly long for the lightweight division. Turner’s nickname is, “The Tarantula,” for good reason as he stands 6’3. He’s coming off of a TKO win in his last fight which brought him to 2-2 in his current UFC stint.

Turner has good striking and decent power for the lightweight division. As noted, Turner is very long, but he doesn’t seem to use his length very well. If he could make his straight shots more crisp and effective, he could be deadly. However, he doesn’t use his length the same way a guy like Jon Jones does.

I think this fight is going to come down to the takedown. If Turner can defend and keep the fight at range, he has a good shot. However, I just don’t see him stopping Moises from taking him down in this one. Again, once it hits the mat, it’s all Moises from there.

Prediction: Thiago Moises by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) – Round 2

UFC Vegas 9 Outlook

There are some incredible fights tomorrow night. While there are not the biggest names on the UFC Vegas 9 card, the fights should be incredibly entertaining. One of the last cards in the US before a trip to Fight Island should be entertaining for the fans.