“He’s the only one who ever won a round!”

Khabib Nurmagomedov coach Javier Mendes revealed that UFC lightweight Islam Makachev was the only fighter to beat ‘The Eagle’ in a sparring session. According to Javier Mendes, Khabib Nurmagomedov has never lost any of his sparring partners in nine years of training except Islam Makachev.

Speaking about Islam ‘s upcoming fight against Drew Dober at UFC 259, Javier Mendez told Helen Yee in a recent interview:

It matches well with all of them. And listen, this is not a mystery. I always said … when people talk to me about Khabib sparring and say he never missed a sparring session in sparring history with me, ever. And I’d say he’s missing a round here and there, and the one thing I never said, (against) who. And the man ‘who’ is Islam (Makachev). He is the only man to ever win a tour against Khabib, ever. Never. He is the only one who has ever done it. No one has ever beaten Khabib in a round. In every year he’s been here with me, the nine years, no one has ever hit him. So if Islam wins a round here and there, how good is Islam.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makachev share a connection

Islam Makachev and Khabib Nurmagomedov go back a long way from their days in Dagestan. The two remain teammates to date at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose and MMA Eagle in Russia where Javier Mendes is also head coach.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been rooted for Makachev’s Islam as the next big thing at light weight and he is believed by top fighters to have avoided it. Islam Makachev was scheduled to fight Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 254 last year, where Khabib Nurmagomedov defended his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje. But the fight never came to fruition because RDA tested postive for Covid-19. In a press conference leading up to UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov said-

I think because of how dangerous it is in the cage, and I think because of its rating. A lot of people like the top five, the top six, the top seven they don’t want to fight because it’s a threat to them. Right now, the state of Islam is very tough, but after a fight or two, everything is going to change. Lots of people are gonna want this fight after one year. Stay ready, keep training, and keep fighting. This is what he (Makhachev) needs right now.

Published February 28, 2021, 10:42 IST