Islam Makhachev continues his march to the UFC light-weight title this weekend in Las Vegas with a battle in opposition to Bobby Green (dwell and solely from 1am Saturday evening on RMC Sport 2). Announced successor to his nice buddy and now coach Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Dagestani shares similarities but additionally variations with his compatriot. Focus on a fighter feared by many in his class.
“Islam will soon be champion!” When Khabib Nurmagomedov retired in October 2020, the undefeated king of UFC lightweights did not have to assume lengthy to crown his successor. The Dagestani legend designated “(s)his brother from another mother”, Islam Makhachev. Former heavyweight and light-weight heavyweight champion who rubbed shoulders with each at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Daniel Cormier advised this anecdote: “Immediately after his fight, Khabib’s question was: ‘How does Islam become champion? ?’ It wasn’t about him, it was ‘Islam must be the champion’ and how he could help him.”
Between Nurmagomedov and Makhachev, who faces Bobby Green this weekend in Las Vegas in the primary occasion of a UFC Fight Night, there may be rather more than sporting respect. The two mates grew up collectively. They’ve been coaching collectively for so long as they will keep in mind, again residence or on the AKA after they’re within the States. The retiree is now the opposite’s coach, by his facet alongside the cage in every battle, which typically has its impact (Thiago Moises had admitted to having hung out visualizing the truth that Khabib could be in his nook for do not be intimidated by its presence!). And sooner or later, maybe, little question, they’ll inform one another by the fireplace their reminiscences of former UFC light-weight champions.
Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, father of Khabib and coach of the entrance two his tragic death in July 2020, imagined a passing of the torch. “Before he died, my dad told me, ‘When you finish your career, Islam has to get to the top, it has to happen at the same time,'” Khabib advised ESPN final yr. And to drive the purpose residence in current days: “Islam Makhachev was my father’s favorite student. He was like his son. My father kept saying he was the future champion. That’s why I have to be there and finish the job my dad started.” A mission facilitated by the technical and bodily weapons of the boy.
With a query behind: the parallel typically made on this plan with Khabib, silent and hardworking like him, is it actually related? Coming from sambo like his buddy (two former world champions), Islam additionally shows a really excessive stage of battle, suffocating for the opponent. If he places you on the bottom, which he tries on the primary opening, your finish of the spherical can be lengthy. But there are huge variations in fashion. A “cleaner”, extra technical Makhachev, with a battle extra oriented in direction of the direct seek for the submission grip when Nurmagomedov harassed you with his bodily stress and his ground-and-pound blows to empty your bar of resistance. vitality earlier than ending the job. Not the identical strategy.
But his standing recreation, in feet-fists, seems higher, extra diversified and extra pungent. “There is a distinction in hanging, confirms the French fighter Taylor Lapilus, MMA consultant for RMC Sport. Islam, he boxed. Khabib is extra environment friendly in his wrestling and grappling, however Islam is extra full.” Another distinction, Makhachev doesn’t have the aura of invincibility that accompanied his elder, who began at 29-0 with out ever being actually put at risk. He has already skilled defeat, his solely profession (21-1), for his second battle on the UFC in October 2015, knocked out within the first spherical by Adriano Martins who stunned him on the counter with a left hook on an error of administration of distance and launch poorly evaluated in hanging.
“It can happen to the best, it could have happened to Khabib if he had continued to fight, recalls Javier Mendez, their coach at AKA. But Islam learned from this fight and reacted very well. He continued to learn and to work on different styles of striking. For example, he worked with the coach of the Russian Olympic taekwondo team because he is someone who is always looking to evolve.” The introduced heir appears to progress from exit to exit, helped by his “brother” who is nearly precisely three years older. “I have improved a lot working with him, especially in wrestling,” Islam stated in March 2021 within the Hindustan Times.
Javier Mendez says Makhachev is likely one of the few to have received rounds in opposition to Khabib in sparring. With a smile, Islam places it into perspective: “I’m glad he’s retired because we spar a lot less and not as hard”. Their frequent aim is evident. Take again this belt of lightweights wedged across the waist of Nurmagomedov when he left the cage. To respect the desire of the late Abdulmanap, he ought to have even grow to be champion as quickly as “The Eagle” took off. Khabib laughed it off with kindness and a smile final March: “I said to Islam, ‘You’re a bit late bro.’ He has to show the world who he is.” For Daniel Cormier, the Dagestanais is “the best lightweight on the planet”.
Javier Mendez goes additional: “He’s the best fighter to ever win a UFC belt in history. He’s so complete. He’s my best fighter in almost every way. That’s for That’s what Khabib says so good about it. Khabib isn’t known for saying things he doesn’t mean. The only way to beat him is if he makes a mistake and gets caught. You don’t You’re not going to dominate him round after round. He’s a fantastic athlete with the right mindset to do great things in this sport.” But like Nurmadomedov earlier than him, Makhachev had to cope with pace bumps on the street.
Better ranked fighters refused to face him, query of benefit-risk steadiness, and he himself has already stated no to fights as a result of he was not warned sufficient prematurely to put together nicely. Not to point out a yr and a half with out a battle, from September 2019 to March 2021, with a number of fights canceled due to accidents and the pandemic. New grain of salt a number of days in the past: Makhachev, fourth within the standings, was initially supposed to face Beneil Dariush, third, this Saturday with sure standing as a light-weight title challenger for the winner. But his opponent, injured within the leg, forfeited. To imagine it, a number of members of the highest 15 then refused to take up the problem at brief discover earlier than the settlement of Green, unranked and who had simply fought (and received)… on February 12 at UFC 271.
Ultra favourite to beat this American fairly boxer who has the whole lot to acquire and nothing to lose on this stunning opposition of fashion, Makhachev would signal a fourth victory in lower than a yr and his tenth success in a row within the UFC. Sufficient for a shot on the belt regardless of the shortage of “names” on his resume? He already thought himself respectable to confront champion Charles Oliveira after the Brazilian’s victory over Dustin Poirierand had claimed it, however the UFC most well-liked to make Justin Gaethje the subsequent challenger, conflict scheduled for May 7 at UFC 274.
He did not change his thoughts, however he realized persistence as Khabib had realized. “To become champion, you already have to have a chance. It should have been me and not Justin. But it’s done. What do we do? Nobody wants to hear someone complain. What you have to, it’s go face another guy and win.” “It could be logical for him to be after, believes Taylor Lapilus. The guys in entrance have already confronted Oliveira or are going to face him, Dariush is injured… He doesn’t have to be penalized for the accidents of others. MMA can be a query of alternatives. He does the job and if he beats Bobby Green, for me, it is a battle for the compulsory title. He deserves it sportingly in addition to logically.”
The interested party even already has the marketing pitch of an Oliveira-Makhachev which would be a kind of modified version of the long-awaited Khabib-Tony Ferguson which never took place. “I think Charles Oliveira is going to beat Justin Gaethje by choking him and a title fight between a guy with eleven straight wins, Charles, and a guy with ten straight wins, me, will be huge for all MMA fans. It’s going to be a good fight because we have almost the same style. He has huge grappling skills, good striking. But don’t think it’s going to be difficult for me. I can take him to the ground easily because he doesn’t have great wrestling skills even though his grappling is top notch.”
Discreet on the microphone for a very long time, Makhachev is starting to grasp English higher and lets free a bit of extra to chamber, little question conscious that it’s also vital to give on this stage to promote oneself. He hopes to end his opponent – submitted solely twice in 42 professional fights, and by no means since 2009, however who has by no means confronted such expertise on the bottom – within the first spherical, to put a stamp on his legitimacy to battle for the title. Like Khabib, Makhachev will all the time maintain criticism for a method tasted by connoisseurs however typically tough for most people to admire. Smooth talker Bobby Green sums it up in his phrases: “Even though he finishes his opponents and maybe has the makings of a champion, it’s just boring. Nobody wants to see him. Everyone nobody cares. I fall asleep watching his fights.”
In his prime, Makhachev earned his second within the gentle given up by Khabib. “He is 30 years old, it’s the perfect time to show that he is the best, supports the former king of the lightweights. 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. Physically, mentally, in boxing, in grappling, Islam is a cut above all the others. He can crush Oliveira. He has to fight for the title not because he is my brother or my friend but because he is very good.” Makhachev won’t ever be as star as Khabib, propelled star by his rivalry with Conor McGregor. But he may quickly put on the identical belt.