Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises headline the UFC on ESPN 26 this Saturday Night. These two lightweights have big plans for their future, and this match carries a lot of significance for both. Makhachev wants a breakthrough among the elite, while Moises plans to do the same and move away from the “gatekeeper” status. The Russian is an absolute favorite, yet, that doesn’t have to mean anything in the UFC. We’ve seen a lot of sensations throughout history.
Islam Makhachev (-650) is one of the best lightweights in the division, but the constant problems with injuries have prevented him from becoming a title contender. Though, he isn’t far away from that place, all he needs to do is win a couple of matches, and we are more than sure that Dana White won’t wait for one second to throw him into the fire.
Islam is one of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s best friends, and over the years, he would learn and train with the Russian Eagle. That is why Makhachev’s fight style has so many similarities with Khabib’s. He is all over the rival, trying to drag him down to the mat and wrestle out the last drop of energy from him. Makhachev’s cardio is superb, and there aren’t too many guys in the division with a similar endurance.
The Russian has only one defeat in his pro-MMA career in 20 matches. It was six years ago against Adriano Martins at the UFC 192, but after that, Islam went on to win seven straight events, the last one against Drew Dober in March this year.
Thiago Moises (+450) doesn’t have an impressive career as Makhachev, but we need to say that he has just 26 years. For the UFC, that is a very, very low number. After battling with the sea of various opponents since his arrival to the UFC in 2018.
Moises lost two in three between November 2018 and August 2019, but took a brief pause afterward to come back stronger and motivated. That is why he posted three wins ever since, the biggest one against Michael Johnson in May 2020. After that, the Brazilian defeated Bobby Green and Alexander Hernandez, both via unanimous decision.
He is a guy who prefers to wrestle and who loves long and cautious contests. Moises’ submission knowledge is very good, and he holds six such wins so far. We need to say that the Brazilian knows how to handle opponents on the ground and that he has a fantastic basis for perfecting that aspect of the fight.
Even though we have a high opinion about Moises’ future, at this point, he isn’t a real threat to Makhhachev. This will be a good chance for him to see what he needs to improve when it comes to wrestling. In order to beat the No.9 in lightweight rankings, Moises will have to develop more. Right now, Makhachev is much better, and we expect him to show that without any particular problems. He will probably finish the rival on the ground.
Pick: Makhachev to win via submission
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.