Islam Makhachev has had to put his past behind him and is now looking toward a UFC title.
UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev seems as if he is on the cusp of greatness. The Russian star has been on the rise in the UFC for the past seven years and now is just one week out from his first title shot. Seven years might not seem that long when it comes to a run to a UFC title, but Makhachev has been so dominant throughout his run so far, many believed that this shot is long overdue.
Makhachev is 11-1 in the UFC and has now won ten in a row. When looking back on his career to this point it is not so much the loss that has an impact on him, but the events that surrounded the loss. Back in 2015, in just his second fight in the UFC, Makhachev lost via knockout to Adriano Martins. Following the loss, he was flagged by the U.S Anti-Doping Agency following a failed drug test. It was later reported that the substance found in Makhachev’s sample was an anti-ischemic compound called meldonium.
Islam Makhachev explains how a ban from the USADA affected him more than his only loss
A trial was held in which Makhachev was found to not have been at fault for having the substance in his system, but now he is explaining what happened and why the whole situation was so tough for him.
“Later I had problems with USADA,” he explained in an interview with UFC Russia. “I worried more about that now because I got caught taking some thing even though it was just mildronate. Russian athletes on national teams were getting it like vitamins. I was on the combat Sambo team then it was part of the nutrition you get, vitamins, isotonics. Every national team was given mildronate I still think it’s systemic prejudice against Russian athletes. Someone must’ve found out that all the teams were getting that drug. It’s a regular over-the-counter pharmaceutical. I was worried because I was given a ban because of that substance. I thought that it’d affect everyone on the team we never had anyone get caught for something. The ban affected me more than the loss. We resolve the situation I was taking mildronate after my heart surgery I showed them the prescriptions and the problem was resolved.”
Makhachev comes from a very close-knit training camp out of Russia. His group is famously headed up by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Makhachev recalled worrying that his failed test would affect those around him in his training camp. At the time, Nurmagomedov was rising up the division but was not champion just yet.
Russia as a whole has had some issues with athletes taking banned substances. Back in 2019 Russia was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from international sports competitions for four years. This has limited them in competitions such as the Olympics and other world-stage events. Makhachev believes there is a prejudice against all Russian athletes because of these circumstances. As is the case with all UFC fighters, Makhachev has been regularly tested by USADA since his failed test and has not had an issue since. He will be taking on Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280 for the vacant UFC lightweight title.