Javier Mendez Thinks Khabib Nurmagomedov ‘Needs Some Work’ Before Becoming an Effective Cornerman

Mendez revealed what it's like sharing a corner with the UFC Hall of Famer.

Javier Mendez On Khabib Nurmagomedov Corner Work
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Khabib Nurmagomedov may be one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts history, but the former lightweight world champion could learn a thing or two about being a cornerman. 

For the first time in nearly two years, ‘The Eagle’ returned to Islam Makhachev’s corner as the reigning 155-pound king stepped inside the Octagon for a main event title tilt with division fan favorite Dustin Poirier at UFC 302. After four and a half rounds of entertaining action, Makhachev secured the victory with a late-round darce choke to retain his title and move himself one step closer to GOAT status.

Also in the corner for Makhachev that night was legendary MMA coach and American Kickboxing Academy founder Javier Mendes. Speaking with The Schmo during a recent interview, Mendez offered some insight into Nurmagomedov’s corner work, making it clear that while the UFC Hall of Famer is great at game planning, he could use a little fine-tuning in other areas. 

“Khabib’s actually becoming a great coach and a great cornerman – [but] he needs some work on the cornering,” Mendez said. “He’s great at game planning, he’s fantastic at game planning but we need to work a little bit on the cornering – just a little bit.”

He continued, We still need to work the corner because he goes a little crazy on there, up and down, slamming on the table – [I told him] ‘Calm down, calm down’. He gets really amped up. I mean he loves his fighters so much [as] his brothers that you know, he puts everything into that fight when he goes, I forgot what it was like to have him in the corner; it’s kind of crazy.”  

Following up on his comments during a conversation with Helen Yee, Mendez revealed some of the instructions given to ‘The Eagle’ on how to better serve his fighter from the corner position. 

“I gave him instructions on ‘Hey, it’s okay to do what you need to do but just sit down, yell as loud as you can to get your fighters’ attention, you don’t have to hit the table, stand up and cause the commission to tell us to sit down,’ Mendez said.

“Scream as loud as you can – he goes ‘Coach, how am I going to reach him’, I go ‘Scream, scream as loud as you can’ but you’ve got to say things within reason because you got to listen the crowd, if the crowd’s screaming [too] then your fighter is going to hear nothing.”

Javier Mendez Doesn’t See Belal Muhammad Beating Leon Edwards in a Technical Fight

Mendez also offered his thoughts on the upcoming welterweight title clash between current champion Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad scheduled for UFC 304 on July 27.

“I’m pulling for [Muhammad],” Mendez told The Schmo. “He’s our guy and it’s gonna be a tough fight. It’s gonna be one of those ones where Belal is going to have to dig deep. He has to stay on focus. He has to stay on task and he has to make this fight a very dirty fight, because if not… If it’s a technical thing, Leon is too far ahead. There’s no way that I see [Muhammad] doing great on the outside.

“He’s gotta be on the inside making a gritty wrestling-type fight.”

Over the last few years, ‘Remember The Name’ has worked closely with Mendez, Nurmagomedov, and Makhachev—a decision that has continued to pay dividends. As it stands, Muhammad is the No. 1 ranked contender at 170, sitting on a nine-fight win streak with his last four wins coming against fighters in the division’s top 15. 

Published on June 14, 2024 at 7:55 pm
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