UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has sung the praises of his teammate and fellow Dagestani, Islam Makhachev. Their coach Javier Mendez seems to agree with these sentiments, and even thinks that Islam could be better than Khabib one day.
Mendez has been coaching Khabib since before he could even speak English, working with him at AKA, to the point where he got the UFC lightweight title and an undefeated 29-0 record. Even after the passing of Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap, Javier was there for Khabib to help him rebound and defend his title against Justin Gaethje. Not only that, but he helps to develop the rest of the stable of elite fighters coming from the American Kickboxing Academy, including Islam Makhachev.
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Javier Mendez Believes Islam Will Be Better Than Khabib
As impressive as the number one pound-for-pound ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov is, he has been vocal about the fact that he thinks Islam Makhachev is better. Coach Javier Mendez seems to agree with these sentiments, as he explained in a recent interview. He says that when it comes to the ground game, Khabib is the best there has ever been, but Islam has better standup than Khabib and can become more well rounded and an overall better fighter.
“The bottom line is, Islam technically in the stand-up, he’s better,” Mendez said. “He has better stand-up. On the ground, they’re both two-time Sambo world champions, so it’s just a matter of luck. If they get the right fights, and they don’t get hit with some great shots that could put them out, if everything goes according to plan, Islam is going to be a little bit of a better version of Khabib in the technical sense.
“I don’t think there’s going to be anybody ever that’s better than him, I just think in the technical sense Islam is a little better,” Mendez continued. “Not on the ground, on the stand-up. I think Khabib’s the best there ever has been on the ground. On the stand-up, no Khabib’s not the best there ever has been. Islam is one of them that has a little bit better. Not much, but a little bit. Better kicking for sure, boxing-wise he’s a teeny bit. Mentally, nobody in the world is better than Khabib for me, nobody.”
It is going to take time for us to see if Javier Mendez is correct, especially with the troubles that Islam Makhachev has bee having getting and keeping opponents. He is now expected to face off against Drew Dober soon, and that will be a step in the right direction. However it is still a long way from proving that he is better than Khabib Nurmagomedov.