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Khabib Nurmagomedov to Dana White: ‘You have no other choice’ than Oliveira vs. Makhachev for vacant belt

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Khabib Nurmagomedov is adamant that Islam Makhachev needs to the be the man to fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title after UFC 274.

Nurmagomedov, a former 155-pound titleholder, was watching closely as Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) submitted Justin Gaethje (23-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in the first round of Saturday’s main event at Footprint Center in Phoenix. The belt became vacant with the result because Oliveira missed weight in what was a stunning twist leading into fight night.

UFC president Dana White has said Oliveira will “a hundred percent” be one half of the next divisional title fight; it’s just a matter of who will be the opponent standing across from him.

There are a number of potential contenders, including Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, Beneil Dariush, and Conor McGregor. There’s a fighter who is currently riding a better winning streak than any of those names, though, and that’s Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC), who has won his past 10 fights overall.

Nurmagomedov thinks Makhachev, who is his teammate, pupil and good friend, is the obvious candidate. And he sees UFC 281 on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi as a date that makes perfect sense for the matchup to materialize (via Twitter):

@danawhite you have no other choice but make Oliveira vs Islam fight in AbuDhabi 22 October.
Perfect date, Perfect location,Perfect opponents with perfect winning streaks 10 vs 11

Why @MAKHACHEVMMA has to do contender fight, if there’s no champion in this division 🤷‍♂️ @ufc @danawhite

Makhachev, 30, has suffered just one loss in his 23-fight career. He’s coming off four consecutive finishes over Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker and Bobby Green. The Russian was supposed to fight Dariush in February, but the matchup fell apart due to an injury. And with his streak, Makhachev – and clearly Nurmagomedov – think they should be next in line (via Twitter):

Congrats Charles and see you in AbuDhabi for vacant 🏆 #UFC274

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Twitter reacts to Charles Oliveira's submission of Justin Gaethje to make title vacant at UFC 274