As Islam Makhachev prepares for the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career, one of the most important building blocks in his climb to the top of the UFC lightweight division will be missing.
Makhachev’s longtime coach and UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov is stepping away from the world of coaching. As a result, he will not make the walk with Makhachev on February 11 for his champion vs. champion superfight with Alexander Volkanovski. Former two-division champion Henry Cejudo shared his thoughts on Nurmagomedov’s abrupt retirement from coaching and what it could mean for Islam Makhachev next month.
“It is what it is,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “At the end of the day, it’s you going out there, you fighting. You doing it for a higher reason other than yourself, which for them it’s faith. And you go out there and you get the job done. I don’t think there’s any excuses. I think these guys, a lot of these Russians, they know whether Khabib is there or not that they gotta perform and that they got to win. That’s where I stand with that.”
Cejudo is still backing Makhachev to walk away as the newly crowned No. 1 pound-for-pound ranked fighter in the world but believes Volkanovski will have a greater chance at victory with ‘The Eagle’ being absent from Makhachev’s corner.
“I still do believe Islam will win, but now I will give Alexander Volkanovski more than a chance now.”
Do you guys this will have an impact on Islam's performance in anyway? pic.twitter.com/7jQfvTWt7d
— Lewis Simpson (@LewisSimpsonMMA) January 23, 2023
Henry Cejudo Sees the Size Advantage of Islam Makhachev as Alexander Volkanovski’s Biggest Obstacle
As for how Henry Cejudo sees things going in the UFC 284 headliner, ‘Triple C’ sees Islam Makhachev’s size advantage as the biggest obstacle for Alexander Volkanovski.
“The size. The size is gonna be different. The wrestling in particular. Sometimes size doesn’t matter, but when you get a very disciplined guy that’s big, that’s solid and is able to get down to that weight division and recover, that’s what I’m talking about like size.
“I think the biggest advantage that Islam does have is top control. Sometimes I’m not so impressed with their takedowns and how they get them, but they’re able to take you down. They’re not the slickest or the nicest, but they’re able to take you down and they’re going to be able to hurt you once they get you down.
“That’s when the rubber meets the road because that’s when they’re gonna handcuff you. They’re gonna put your legs together. They’re gonna scorpion you. They’re gonna control your wrists and they’re gonna throw some right hands, left hooks on top of every elbow.”