Islam Makhachev sent a big statement to all UFC lightweights with a fourth round submission victory over Thiago Moise in the main event of UFC On ESPN 26 ( also Known as UFC Vegas 31) on Saturday night at the UFC Apex.
The fight which was expected to have more ground work than striking, saw Makhachev (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) dominate Moise even on feet and on the canvas before switching his opponent off with a rear naked choke in the fourth round.
The first round was more of an extended feeling out process where both fighter exchanged few kicks and two punch combinations before both proceeded to the clinch. Makhachev scored a takedown and went on to attempt a ground and pound but couldn’t till time ran out.
Moise had a better start to the second round and used his strikes to perfection, forcing Makhachev to initiate a clinch and eventually a take down. Makhachev improved his position and was able to land a few punches from moise back before the Horn was heard.
Both fighters continued fighting in the clinch in the third and shuffled through positions, Makhachev scored another takedown but Moise was fast, quickly adjusted out of his grip then attempted a submission on Makhachev’s ankle but nothing came out of it till the end of the round.
Moise came in strong in the fourth round and connected well before Makhachev stunningly lifted him up and dropped him on the canvas for a takedown, worked his way to his back and initiated a rear naked choke to end the fight at the midway point of the fourth round.
Makhachev is now on an eight fight winning streak with the win and also became the first fighter to stop Moise. He later vowed to compete in only five round matches and called out the entire lightweight division with a simple message.
“Hey guys, you can run, but you can’t hide,” Makhachev said in a warning to the rest of the division during his post-fight interview with Paul Felder. “I’m coming, I’m here.”
For Thiago Moise, his three fight winning streak got snapped with the loss and leaves him back at square one in his drawing board after failing to impress in the biggest stage of his career.