UFC 281 is scheduled for Abu Dhabi on October 22nd. Khabib Nurmagomedov has happy memories of fighting there and registered his last two career wins in the UAE’s capital.

Now he wants protégé Islam Makhachev to carry the torch. He wants the #4 ranked lightweight to challenge for the title and says Abu Dhabi would be the most convenient location,

“I know for us it’s easier if we fight Abu Dhabi. This is same hour, we don’t need jet lag or nothing. We have same time with Abu Dhabi and Dagestan,” he told ESPN.

Ideal location

Nurmagomedov beat both Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi during the pandemic. He wants Makhachev to challenge lightweight champion Charles Oliveira next but isn’t afraid to travel to Brazil in order to take on the champion,

“If they let me choose location, I’m going to choose Brazil. Of course (Abu Dhabi) is better for us but if they ask me I choose Brazil. I really wanna go there and like, ‘Islam finish Charles Oliveira in his home’.”

Legacy is important to Nurmagomedov. Having retired undefeated as the reigning UFC lightweight champion he will go down as the best of all time in the minds of many.

Leaving a legacy

But there are others who have questioned the strength of his resume and compared it unfavourably to other UFC legends. He thinks going to Brazil and beating the champion in his own backyard would be the perfect way for Makhachev to make his own legacy,

“This is very good for your legacy. When you go to someone’s house. Finish him. Take his belt and go back. People are going to talk about this even after 50 years.”

The former champion believes that the UFC lightweight belt belongs in Dagestan and he wants to see it back there,

“I believe last 10 years UFC lightweight belt’s location is Dagestan. Not Ireland, not Brazil, its place is in Dagestan.”

Lifelong mission

He sees Makhachev continuing the mission his own father started,

“Me now I’m finished. Now it’s Islam. This is like father told. Last ten years best lightweight in the world, this is my students. When Khabib gonna finish, Islam is gonna come.”

Oliveira was actually stripped of the belt after failing to make weight. This detail appears to have been lost on Nurmagomedov who, like everyone else, regards the Brazilian as being the rightful champion.

He would like Makhachev to follow in his footsteps by fighting for the UFC lightweight title in Abu Dhabi. But Nurmagomedov thinks it would be a much bigger statement to snatch it from the champion in front of his own fans in Brazil,

“We’re gonna finish Charles Oliveira on his game in Brazilian land. Take belt and go back.”