Islam Makhachev said Khabib Nurmagomedov is ‘much better’ in one key aspect ahead of UFC 302

One popular UFC star reckons that Islam Makhachev is just “alright” in one key area where his mentor excelled.

The lightweight champion is coached by Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired in 2020 at the peak of his powers. He is set to make a potentially record-equalling third lightweight world title defence against Dustin Poirier at UFC 302 tomorrow night, which will see him join his teammate in the history books.

There are regularly comparisons made between the two, with many believing Nurmagomedov to be the greatest fighter of all time. But as he continues to develop his striking, many reckon Makhachev might just be even better.

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Islam Makhachev will join Khabib Nurmagomedov, BJ Penn, Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar on the list of lightweights to defend their belt three times should he beat Poirier tomorrow night. The record was set in 2009 by Benn, and has stood ever since.

Edgar and then Henderson both came close, but it was Nurmagomedov who was believed to be the man to break it during the peak of his run. However, when his father Abdulmanap passed away in 2020 due to heart issues he retired at the very top of the game, and has never returned to the sport.

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Now, he is backing his teammate to make history with a fourth defence, which would be expected to take place against Arman Tsarukyan should he get through Poirier. Makhachev has already beaten the Armenian once before, and is keen for a rematch to put his stamp on the feud.

Speaking to cameras from UFC Embedded cameras ahead of the Poirier fight, Nurmagomedov said: “Islam is feeling very good, honestly very sharp.

“This is a very important fight for him. This is his third title defence, very, very close to breaking the record for all-time lightweight defence. He’s very close.”

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