UFC Calgary’s Islam Makhachev Ready to Promote Himself

A little self-promotion goes a long way, as lightweight Islam Makhachev proved at UFC on FOX 30 in Calgary over the weekend.

Calgary, AB — Islam Makhachev had a little something to say in the octagon following his submission win over Canada’s Kajan Johnson at UFC on FOX 30. “Hey DC, tell them to give me top fifteen, or give me Brock Lesnar,” Makhachev said in the post-fight interview Saturday night. Obviously, that was a bit of humour: Lesnar outweighs the Dagestani fighter and teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov by a good hundred pounds.

Still, it’s a sign that Makhachev, now on a four-fight win streak in the UFC’s lightweight division, and 5-1 overall, is ready to step into the spotlight. Speaking to reporters backstage, he ditched the translator, answering questions in English. Why? It’s simple. “I need to promote myself.” The lightweight explained that he’d been working with a teacher, watching movies in English, whatever he could do to get an edge.

Saturday it paid off. As did his preparation for Johnson. “I’m really happy I finished my fight in the first round, because I don’t get injured. I feel good,” he told the assembled media. “I watch Kajan’s last for fights. All the time they go quick. He has, like, the same statistics all the time,” he said of his game plan. “I had a plan to pressure him, my coaches help me [with], to cut the angles, and when you can perform it, get the takedown.”

He executed that plan flawlessly, as the bout ended with Johnson submitting to an arm-bar in the very first round.

So where does Makhachev go from here, if not into the colossus that is Brock Lesnar? “I don’t know, now I think the UFC will understand I deserve a top opponent,” he said. And while appearing on the UFC Moscow card might be a little too soon — “I need like a little bit more time,” he admitted — he wants to get back in the cage at least once or twice more this year. He’s been putting the hours in with Nurmagomedov, after all. “All my life I’m training with Khabib. Training hard, training smart.”

On that note, his translator finally stepped in with a quip of his own: “Now it’s Islam time.”