Longtime buddy and coaching companion of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev is seen as his successor by the previous UFC light-weight champion. Very shut to his compatriot in fashion, the Dagestanese has the weapons to assume the prediction. But whoever faces Thiago Moises this weekend in Las Vegas (stay from 4am on the night time of Saturday to Sunday on RMC Sport 2) for his first “main event” on the UFC should now transfer up a gear.
They grew up collectively. They have been coaching collectively for so long as they will bear in mind, within the nation or on the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) when they’re within the United States. And someday, possibly, little doubt, they’ll recount their reminiscences of former UFC light-weight champions by the hearth. The parallel between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev is apparent. Multiple. When the Dagestanese legend retired final October after beating career-undefeated Justin Gaethje, Khabib did not have to suppose a lot a few successor: “Islam will soon be champion”.
“Immediately after this fight, Khabib’s question was, ‘How does Islam become champion?’, then confirmed Daniel Cormier, former heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion who rubbed shoulders with both at AKA. It wasn’t about him, it was ‘Islam must be the champion’ and how he could help him to achieve this status. “Simple Coué-style encouragement to his compatriot and” brother of another mother “Oh no. Those who follow Makhachev’s career have long understood that the boy has all the weapons to conquer the crown.
Coming from sambo, like his great friend (both are former world champions in this discipline), Islam also displays a very high level struggle, suffocating for the opponent. If he takes you down, which he tries at the first possible opportunity, the end of the round is going to be very long for you, like what he did to Drew Dober in his last fight in March (victory in the third round on submission with a triangle) with a large technical panel which had allowed him to cancel the takedown defense yet recognized by the American. Going into details makes it clear that Nurmagomedov had an even greater ability to put pressure and intensity on an opponent on the ground. Better control quality in grappling.
Papa Nurmagomedov had a plan
But his striking (hand and foot) seems cleaner, more efficient. Not exactly the same fighters, then, but two very similar models. “He has almost the same skills and he is fantastic on his feet,” confirms Daniel Cormier. AKA coach Javier Mendez says Makhachev is one of the few to have won rounds against Khabib in sparring. “I improved a lot working with him, especially in wrestling, Islam specified last March in an interview with Hindustan Times. I’m glad he’s retired because we’re sparing a lot less and more so hard. “
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, father of Khabib and coach of the two before his tragic death in July 2020, even imagined a passing of the torch between the two. “Before his death, my father told me: ‘When you finish your career, Islam must reach the top, it must happen at the same time'”, Khabib tells ESPN. The two are almost exactly three years apart, born seven days apart in September. And Khabib won the UFC lightweight belt just over three years ago in his tenth fight in the US organization.
The logic signed Abdulmanap should therefore have seen Makhachev, who will climb for the … tenth time in the UFC octagon this Saturday, fight for the title in 2021. But he is for the moment only ninth in the classification of the category . Something to make smile the one who will be in his corner this Saturday evening for his fight against Thiago Moises (on a card which will also see the return of the former champion of the roosters Miesha Tate, opposed to Marion Reneau for her first fight since November 2016) as it has been several times in the past. “I said to Islam: ‘You are a little late my brother,’ Khabib says with a big smile. He should already be in the top 3 but he is late. (Laughs.) This Saturday he has to show the world who Islam Makhachev is. “
“He can finish Poirier and crush Oliveira”
If Khabib had taken a long time to have his chance for the title, for reasons beyond his control, Makhachev also has to face some speed bumps on the road: some higher ranked fighters refuse to face him, the risk-benefit balance leaning clearly towards the second, and he himself has already said no to fights because not enough warned in advance to prepare well (unlike Nurmagomedov who took them, as against Michael Johnson in November 2016). Not to mention a year and a half without a fight, from September 2019 to March 2021, with several fights canceled due to the pandemic or an injury. Makhachev is largely the level of a top 5 lightweight and should already face rivals of this caliber. But history has decided otherwise. Which doesn’t mean he can’t catch up with time.
Launched on a seven-game winning streak since his only career loss (19-1 including 8-1 in the UFC) in his second fight at the UFC in October 2015 (knocked out in the first round by Adriano Martins), Makhachev must now shift into high gear. That of a fighter in the prime of life who has everything to climb the mountain. “He will be 30 this year, Khabib recalls. This is the perfect time to show that he is the best. I was 29 when I became champion. At this age, your mind and your physique are at their best. . 31, 32 33 is the perfect age. Islam is there. Physically, mentally, in boxing, in grappling, I think he is a cut above all the guys. “
And “The Eagle” went on to quote present champion Charles Oliveira and his future challenger Dustin Poirier: “I actually imagine he can end Dustin earlier than the restrict. He may also crush Charles. I do not suppose Charles can deal with him with all his jiu-jitsu guards. We simply want time and no accidents. But he can beat all these guys. He has to battle for the title not as a result of he is my brother or my buddy however as a result of he is excellent. ” For his first “main event” on the UFC, proof that Dana White and the group’s leaders imagine in him and in his future, Makhachev should not have an excessive amount of bother getting by it. impediment Moises, fourteenth within the light-weight standings and who confessed to having frolicked visualizing the truth that Khabib can be within the reverse nook in order not to be intimidated by his presence.
To speed up his quest for the title, he’ll then have to attempt to titillate the members of the highest 5 of the densest class of the UFC. We consider Beneil Dariush, Michael Chandler (who comes out of a fight lost against Oliveira for the title left vacant by Khabib) or Tony Ferguson, respectively third, fourth and fifth. The first is undoubtedly the one who has essentially the most causes to settle for, particularly to fill his notoriety deficit, however the final may additionally need to attempt to reverse his sequence of three defeats in a row by placing an finish to the Makhachev hype. .
The MMA world will lengthy remorse lacking a battle between Khabib and Ferguson at their greatest, with each try to set up it leading to a call-off for various causes, however they could get a way of that conflict with the Nurmagomedov’s “successor”. Who already doesn’t hesitate to announce wanting to “help Tony Ferguson to retire”. Not used to difficult others on the microphone, Makhachev will undoubtedly have to drive his nature to hold on to these massive fights and climb to the title. To ascend the throne left by his “brother” Khabib will undergo this.