UFC Calgary’s Islam Makhachev wouldn’t mind Alexander Hernandez next

As far as game plans go, it doesn’t get much more straightforward than the one Islam Makhachev carried into Saturday’s UFC on FOX 30 lightweight meeting with Kajan Johson.

“I watched Kajan’s last four fights,” Makhachev said backstage at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “Every time, (the) same (style) all the time. I have a plan. My coach told me, ‘Pressure him, cut angles, and when you have a moment, take him down and do your job.’”

It’a job Makhachev (16-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) did emphatically, locking in an armbar that forced Johnson (23-12-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) to tap at the 4:43 mark of Round 1. The bout was part of the preliminary card of Saturday’s event, and it aired on FOX following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of the main card on FOX.

The feat was made all the more impressive if you consider that Johnson hadn’t lost in four years. By snapping Johnson’s four-fight streak, Makhachevk added a fourth straight win to his own record – which, to this day, features a lone loss.

After a couple of somewhat inactive years, Makhachev has also recently been able to pick up some steam and fought twice this year. Once again, he’s walked away quickly and injury-free from a bout and he’s hoping to get another fight in, maybe two, before 2018 ends.

Would a specific date interest him – like, say, the UFC’s long-awaited debut in Russia, scheduled to take place Sept. 15 at Olympic Stadium in Moscow?

“I don’t know,” Makhachev said. “If the UFC gives me a fight at 170 in Russia, I will be ready.”

The reason for that, Makhachev explained, is that he cuts a lot of weight to make the 155-pound limit and needs extra time to recover.

As for whom he’d like to meet next? We wouldn’t go so far as to deem it a call-out, but Makhachev suggested the winner of a main card lightweight bout between Alex Hernandez and Olivier Aubin-Mercier – which he later learned was Hernandez.

Either way, he’s hoping the UFC will figure out an opponent that makes sense within his standings in the division.

“Now I think you’ll see,” Makhachev said. “(UFC President Dana White) and (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby understand I am deserving of a top opponent.”

In any case, Makhachev is living up to his end of the deal. Outside the octagon, as his post-fight scrum with reporters showed, he’s been working on his English skills with the intention of being able to better promote himself.

And inside the octagon, too, the results speak for themselves.

“All my life, I’m training with (champ Khabib Nurmagomedov),” Makhachev said. “I’m training with the champion. Training hard. Training smart. We have good coaches – in Dagestan and in the USA, too. Now I think everybody understands.”

To hear more from Makhachev, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC on FOX 30, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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