Two lightweights face off in this Saturday’s UFC Vegas 49 main event: One is a highly-touted rising star and Khabib Nurmagomedov protege. The other is a veteran of the sport who is currently riding a newfound spark in his career.
No. 5-ranked Islam Makhachev (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) and Bobby Green (29-12-1 MMA, 10-7-1 UFC) headline the UFC Vegas 49 card Saturday.
Originally, Makhachev was supposed to fight Beneil Dariush, a fellow top-five contender. Dariush reportedly broke his ankle in camp, however, and had to pull out of the fight. Due to Green taking the fight on short notice, the two lightweights will fight at a catchweight of 160 lbs.
UFC Vegas 49: Makhachev vs. Green odds
Green has found recent success stringing together back-to-back wins. The first came against fellow veteran Al Iaquinta. Green followed up that win with a victory over prospect Nasrat Haqparast earlier this month at UFC 271.
After 19 UFC fights, Green is finally getting his first-ever main event slot, but a victory on Saturday will be no easy task.
Makhachev, a longtime training partner of former UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, has a nine-fight win streak since getting knocked out by Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in 2015. Plus, this is Makhachev’s second main event in his UFC career at the Apex so the environment isn’t new to him.
However, Green has looked excellent in his last two fights. At UFC 271 against Haqparast, Green put on a striking clinic and dominated all three rounds. Green had the Houston crowd screaming his name as he kept jabbing Haqparast and slipping past his guard without fail.
Green was almost untouchable as well as he slipped the majority of Haqparast’s shots and was able to control and keep the pace of the fight. All three judges scored the contest 30-27 for the seemingly-unphased Green.
As for Makhachev’s last fight, he finished UFC veteran Dan Hooker in less than three minutes, trapping him in a kimura and submitting him in the first round. Hooker also took that fight on short notice after former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos bowed out due to injury. Again, Green is also taking this fight on short notice.
A victory by submission over Hooker isn’t an anomaly for Makhachev. His groundwork and wrestling is his bread and butter, just like his mentor and training partner Khabib. How the two Dagistanis fight are very similar: both have adequate striking which improved over their time in the UFC, but both are always looking to take their opponents to the ground and drown them with suffocating wrestling positions until a limb or neck is exposed for the taking.
A win for Makhachev would probably mean he’s next in line for the lightweight belt and would face the winner of the title fight between current champ Charles Oliveria and Justin Gaethje, which takes place at UFC 274 in May … unless Conor McGregor has something to say about that. You just never know. There has been some speculation and even though he’s lost two in a row, it would be no surprise to anybody if McGregor returns from his leg injury and gets a title shot.
How to watch UFC Fight Night
- Where: UFC Apex, Las Vegas
- When: Saturday, Feb. 26 Main Card at 6 p.m. Prelims at 3 p.m.
- How: ESPN+
By the previous logic, a win for Green should mean a title shot too right? Well, it’s not that simple. Green is currently unranked but he is 5-2 in his last seven fights. A win for Green on short notice and against someone like Makhachev could shoot him straight up into title contention talks, but a fight against a Tony Ferguson or Michael Chandler might make more sense before getting a title shot. But the time is ticking for the 35-year-old and he’s been with the UFC for a long time, so if Uncle Dana is feeling generous, a chance at the lightweight strap isn’t impossible.
Regardless of outcome, it is an interesting matchup and serves as a decent appetizer before next week’s UFC 272 event which features a stacked main card headlined by welterweights Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal.
UFC Vegas 49: Tale of the tape
Dan Hooker W: (Sub)
|Nasrat Haqparast W: (Dec)|
Thiago Moises W: (Sub)
|Al Iaquinta W: (TKO)|
Drew Dober W: (Sub)
|Rafael Fiziev L: (Dec)|
Davi Ramos W: (Dec)
|Thiago Moises L: (Dec)|
Arman Tsarukyan W: (Dec)
|Alan Patrick W: (Dec)|
The rest of the UFC Vegas 49 card
- Middleweight: Misha Cirkunov vs Wellington Turman
- Flyweight: Ji Yeon Kim vs Priscila Cachoeira
- Lightweight: Arman Tsarukyan vs Joel Alvarez
- Middleweight: Armen Petrosyan vs Gregory Rodrigues
- Lightweight: Zhu Rong vs Ignacio Bahamondes
- Featherweight: Josiane Nunes vs Ramona Pascual
- Lightweight: Terrance McKinney vs Fares Ziam
- Bantamweight: Alejandro Perez vs Jonathan Martinez
- Welterweight: Ramiz Brahimaj vs Michael Gillmore
- Flyweight: Victor Altamirano vs Carlos Hernandez