There once was a time — not too long ago, actually — when Khabib Nurmagomedov was touted as the best Lightweight to ever compete in mixed martial arts (MMA). While some (not all) still feel that way even though he’s retired, there are others who claim there is a man who is slightly better than “The Eagle,” and he’s very close to both men.
According to Javier Mendez — who trains both Khabib and Makhachev — Islam is the best 155-pound fighter in the history of the sport, and the opposition will be quick to find out once they get locked in a cage with him.
“You don’t know what you’re dealing with until you’re dealing with him. That’s what everybody that’s dealt with Islam, they thought they could do better, until they get in there and they didn’t. He is so well-rounded. I am going on record saying as the lightweight, he is hands down the No. 1 of all time, best in all areas,” claimed Mendez during an interview with Submission Radio.
“No. 1 of all time, Islam Makhachev. Best defense, best striking, best everywhere. The best all-around athlete. Way, way back in the day I thought it was Frank Shamrock that was the best well-rounded athlete, and he was in all divisions. But in the lightweight division, for me, the person that’s the best-rounded in every single area is Islam Makhachev.”
While most happenings that go on during training stay in the training room, Mendez wasn’t shy in spilling a little secret. The famed American Kickboxing Academy (A.K.A.) trainer revealed that in all the time he trained both Makhachev and Khabib, Makhachev was the only person who has won rounds against “The Eagle.”
“In all the history, since 2012, since Khabib’s been doing sparring with me in front of my eyes, there has been nobody that’s ever taken a round from him,” Mendez said. “No one’s ever won a sparring session. Not a sparring session with Khabib ever. Except one man — Islam.
“He’s the only one that has won rounds from Khabib,” Mendez continued. “Never won a session, but he’s won rounds. And I’ve never seen that. So, obviously, when Khabib talks about the next heir, he’s not saying something that he’s trying to make up and make people believe.”
Makhachev will look to follow in Nurmagomedov’s footsteps by attempting to win the 155-pound title when he battles former division kingpin, Charles Oliveira, in UFC 280’s main event on Oct. 22, 2022.