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Khabib Nurmagomedov was ‘really worried’ about Makhachev fighting Volkanovski

Islam Makhachev’s coach, Javier Mendez, reveals just how stressed Khabib was leading up to UFC 284.

UFC 280: Oliveira v Makhachev Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

While Khabib Nurmagomedov stepped away from the mixed martial arts (MMA) world earlier this year, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t keeping a close eye on his friend Islam Makhachev’s “Champion vs. Champion” fight against Alexander Volkanovski.

According to Makhachev’s coach, Javier Mendez, “The Eagle” was stressed about Islam vs. Volk and called him regularly to make sure they were taking preparations for the bout seriously.

“Khabib would call me up and would say, ‘Coach I’m really worried about this fight, Volkanovski is really tough, I’m concerned for Islam a little bit on this one,’” Mendes said during a Jibber with Jabar interview. “I was like, ‘I’m not, we’re gonna win this fight. I don’t know how easy or how hard, but we’re gonna win this fight. So, I know you’re worried Khabib, but I’m not worried.’

“And he goes, ‘I know, I know, coach, but we know this is a tough fight, we have to prepare for a tough fight,’” he continued. “I go, ‘Yeah, that’s true, but I still feel like we’re gonna win.’ Fast forward to the fight, it was everything Khabib Nurmagomedov said that would happen in the fight, and it was a super tough fight.”

The fight was so tough that some watching felt like Volkanovski should have won. Add in the controversy surrounding a possible illegal I.V. being used by Team Makhachev to rehydrate, and you have ripe grounds for a rematch.

According to Mendez, everyone wants that fight ... UFC just has to put it together.

“Was it a tough fight? Hell yeah. Was it tougher than I thought? Hell yeah,” he said. “Did they gain my full respects? Hell yeah, he got my respect. But am I looking forward to the rematch if they have one? Hell yeah. I want that rematch and I know Islam wants it too. So we’re not dodging nothing.”

“If the UFC puts that match together, it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen willingly on both parties. They’re [Volkanovski’s team] gonna want it, we’re gonna want it and I would hope they [the UFC] would make it a huge event because that fight delivered. It was everything that was expected.”

Volkanovski is set to face Yair Rodriguez to unify the Featherweight titles at UFC 290 on July 8, 2023. Islam Makhachev’s next bout will be UFC 294 on Oct. 21, 2023, in Abu Dhabi. Could the stars still align for a rematch later in the year?

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 284: “Islam vs. Volkanovski” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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