UFC play-by-play commentator Jon Anik believes Islam Makhachev deserves to be recognized for the year he had in 2022.
Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) pounded out short-notice replacement Bobby Green in February before dominating and submitting Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 to capture the vacant lightweight title in October.
Makhachev long has been the protege of former undefeated lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who passed him the torch as soon as he retired. Nurmagomedov’s late father, Abdulmanap, long touted Makhachev as a future champion. So for Makhachev to live up to that hype, Anik thinks that needs to be recognized and can’t be understated.
“Certainly Islam Makhachev in totality, I think this was like the crowning,” Anik said on ESPN’s “DC & RC.” “So I will never think about 2022 without him.”
He continued, “I’m not sure any non-champion has had as much pressure in UFC history to become a champion as Islam Makhachev. And you know what? He did it with flying colors and beat a guy in Charles Oliveira that nobody could beat for half a decade. So Islam’s gotta be mentioned in any sort of long-term 2022 conversation.”
Makhachev was almost immediately booked for his first title defense when he faced off with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) in the octagon just moments after submitting Oliveira in Abu Dhabi.
The pair will meet in the UFC 284 main event on Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 284.
Jon Anik credits Islam Makhachev for becoming UFC champ under immense pressure: ‘This was like the crowning’