Takeaways from UFC Fight Night: Islam Makhachev is ready for a title shot; Miesha Tate has no ring rust.

On Saturday night, all eyes were on Islam Makhachev. Those in the fight game hyped the Dagestani star and Khabib Nurmagomedov’s student ahead of his maiden UFC headline event. He dominated Thiago Moises and answered all of his questions before submitting him in the fourth round.

Amanda Lemos has put the top of the lightweight category on notice, as have the strawweights who watched her record another knockout victory. Lemos’ power is impressive, and her next fight, which she intends to have later this year, will almost certainly be against a top contender in the division.

Miesha Tate, however, delivered the biggest statement of the night. Tate, who had been away from the sport for five years, looked as if she had never left and cruised to a third-round victory over Marion Reneau. Will Tate’s next fight in the Octagon bring her face to-face with someone she knows? With this first step back, did she automatically enter the title contenders?

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, and Morgan Mularski take a look at a packed Las Vegas fight night.

Makhachev has the potential to be a lightweight champion in the future. Okamoto: Islam Makhachev, I believe, has a chance to fight for the title tomorrow. He’s all set. And I believe he has a better than even chance of winning the championship. Right now, I don’t think a single lightweight would be favored over Makhachev by oddsmakers. Against Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Michael Chandler, and everyone else, I believe he’d be the favorite. Makhachev was a more than 5-to-1 favorite over Rafael dos Anjos when they fought last year.

What did he prove against Thiago Moises on Saturday? It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was reminiscent of Makhachev’s former teammate and current coach Khabib Nurmagomedov in that you had to work hard to find flaws. I think Moises was able to keep him against the fence a little in the second round. Moises came close to taking his back for a fraction of a second before fully losing it. What else do you have to say?

With Nurmagomedov, we used to do the same thing. Hey, Michael Johnson hit him once, and it appeared as if he was rocked for a fraction of a second. Nurmagomedov was unable to complete some of his fights, despite the fact that his opponents were clearly outmatched. Could his stamina hold up in a lengthier fight? We nitpicked, and then, when Nurmagomedov reached his current prime — his championship run at the age of 30 — he dominated the division’s finest in a way that demonstrated he was many levels above them.

Is Makhachev going to follow suit? To be honest, that’s what I’m expecting at this point. I’m looking for things to criticize here, but there aren’t many. I’m sure the rest of the UFC lightweights aren’t having much luck either.

Tony Ferguson, in my opinion, is Makhachev’s finest bout right now. And, before you accuse me of kicking Ferguson when he’s down — he’s lost three straight fights — I believe it would be the ideal fight for Ferguson to take. Yes, the task is exciting, but so is the potential reward.

Ferguson is in the midst of the greatest downturn of his career, but a bout between him and Makhachev would generate enormous attention. In mixed martial arts, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson was the bout that got away five times. In a way, revisiting it with Makhachev vs. Ferguson would be tremendous. Imagine if Ferguson pulled it off; he’d be right back in contention for the crown. Having said that, I expect Makhachev to face Rafael Dos Anjos in his next bout.


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