UFC lightweight Thiago Moises believes his headlining fight with Islam Makhachev this weekend will be more competitive than the odds suggest.
At the age of just 26, Moises will be fighting in his first UFC main event after winning his last three fights. After defeats to top contender Beneil Dariush and rising prospect Damir Ismagulov succumbed him to a 1-2 record in the promotion, decision victories over Bobby Green and Alexander Hernandez, as well as a second-round achilles lock submission against Michael Johnson, have boosted the Brazilian into the 155-pound rankings.
But his quest for a fourth consecutive win is set to come up against a Dagestani brute in the form of Islam Makhachev. The Russian lightweight has dominated the likes of Drew Dober, Gleison Tibau and Arman Tsarukyan on his to way earning a place in the division’s top 10. He’ll look to extend his own winning streak to seven and secure a big name opponent with a win against Moises.
Very few are predicting a win for Moises this weekend and the odds reflect that. Makhachev is currently a -700 favorite heading into UFC Vegas 31, with the Sao Paulo-born lightweight sitting as a +450 underdog.
But despite the uphill challenge many predict he’ll be facing, Moises believes that he’s a worse matchup for the Russian than people think. While speaking to MMA Junkie, the 26-year-old explained the comparisons in their respective games and predicted how the fight will play out.
“Islam is a very complete opponent. He has good striking and good ground skills,” Moises said. “Sambo and wrestling are his strong suits. But I’m also very complete in striking, takedowns and jiu-jitsu. I believe striking and jiu-jitsu are my advantages. I believe our bout will be a chess match. Whoever blinks, or moves the wrong piece, will pay the price.”
Moises added that, despite being shifted to the headlining spot after the cancelation of Yair Rodriguez’s return fight against Max Holloway, he believes his fight with Makhachev is worthy of the main event slot.
“I know Islam will be as well trained as I am. Without a doubt, ours is a fight worthy of the main event. We’ll put on a show for all MMA fans.”
Moises and Makhachev will headline this Saturday’s Fight Night card as the UFC returns to the Apex following a memorable UFC 264 pay-per-view inside Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena last weekend.
Also on the card will be the return of former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, a great matchup between Jeremy Stephens and rising star Mateusz Gamrot, and entertaining names like Daniel Rodriguez and Khalid Taha.
Who do you think will have their arm raised in the UFC Vegas 31 main event, Thiago Moises or Islam Makhachev?