Islam Makhachev talks about secret sparring session with Leon Edwards

Islam Makhachev has detailed how he sparred with Leon Edwards in a secret session during their early careers in the UFC.

The lightweight champion is currently preparing to face Dustin Poirier at UFC 302, while his welterweight counterpart will take on Belal Muhammad at UFC 304. But there is a clamour to see the pair fight in a battle of the champions.

Such a meeting has already occurred on the mats at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose years ago when Edwards was visiting the United States to work on his wrestling. And with the pair now ruling the roost in MMA’s top promotion, they could do it again under the lights.

Islam Makhachev opens up about secret sparring with Leon Edwards

Islam Makhachev will have to first take out the top contenders at 155lb before moving up to 170lb, but he will be confident of his chances having previously taken on Edwards in the gym. Rumour has it that Makhachev managed to get a submission, although that has been denied by the Brit.

Speaking on Weighing In with Josh Thomson and Big John McCarthy, Makhachev told the story of their sparring. He even noted that Thomson was there when it happened, with the former fighter recalling that they had trained together.

“I need my chance,” Islam Makhachev explained. “I know it’s going to be a very good fight with Leon Edwards because I know this guy.

“I know his skills, I already sparred with him in AKA many years ago but he’s improved. That time he came to AKA to improve his wrestling… Now he has everything, wrestling, very good striking, clinch, everything.”

Leon Edwards denies being submitted by Islam Makhachev in sparring

As is customary in combat sports, the full story of the infamous meeting has never been, and likely never will be, told. Both men have mentioned that it happened, but aside from a claim that Makhachev got a submission at some point, little is known of what happened.

At a fan panel ahead of his trilogy fight at UFC 286 against Kamaru Usman last year, Edwards said: “I don’t think Islam submitted me in training but we sparred, though.

“I think it would be a good fight because he’s improved his striking and I’ve improved my wrestling so it would be a totally different kind of fight. When we first trained I was 21 or 22, I’m now 31-years-old. It’s like two different fights now.”

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