Is Islam Makhachev a Better Fighter Than Khabib Nurmagomedov?

Published 10/28/2021, 2:32 PM EDT


No doubt Khabib Nurmagomedov is the G.O.A.T at UFC’s lightweight division. He retired with an undefeated record. During his reign at UFC, he fought some of the best fighters like Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and many more. He not only won the fights but also completely dominated them.

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Khabib’s retirement was sad news for fans who wanted to see him continue to fight. However, UFC fans are not entirely disappointed as he is still very much a part of the sport and can be seen with his teammates like Islam Makhachev. 

BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 20: Islam Makhachev of Russia celebrates after his knockout victory over Gleison Tibau of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC 220 event at TD Garden on January 20, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

‘The Eagle’ continues to train and coach younger fighters from Dagestan. Islam Makhachev especially stands out because of his similarities with Khabib; both inside and outside the ring. This makes people wonder if Makhachev is the next Khabib, or who would win a fight between both the Dagestani fighters. 

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Fans have created hype around Makhachev being the next greatest fighter. He has successfully earned the hype because, after one defeat in his early UFC career, he has managed to win all his other fights. His fighting skills, as well as close association with Khabib, make one wonder if he could actually defeat the older Russian.

Could Islam Makhachev ever defeat Khabib Nurmagomedov?

Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez explains the aspects in which Makhachev is better than Khabib. He said, “What Islam had that Khabib never had as good are throws, judo throws, leg swoops, leg trips. I mean Khabib has them, but not to the level of Islam now. I mean all of a sudden, you’re with Islam. You’re going with it and the next thing you know, you’re flying, you’re literally flying.”

He further said, “Khabib is like this: when he controls you, it’s like his whole body controls you. His legs, his toes, his arms, everything locks on to you. Islam is a slightly different approach, while Khabib, it’s like every part of his body is preventing you and he knows what you’re going to do next and he’s got the counter to your counter. And he’s ahead of you. Khabib leaves an opening, and that opening is to let him right hand smash you in your face.”

 

‘MMA By The Numbers’ compared Makhachev’s first 9 UFC fights with Khabib’s first 9 UFC fights. Makhachev seems to have better takedown accuracy, while Khabib excels in landing higher strikes on the opponent. 

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Perhaps what makes Islam Makhachev a much more dangerous fighter is the fact that he has the undefeated champion by his side. Who do you think is the better fighter between Makhachev and Khabib? Let us know in the comments.

Watch this story: Islam Makhachev vs. Dan Hooker Stats: Record, Height, Reach, and More

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Rohini Kottu

125 articles

Rohini Kottu is a UFC Writer at EssentiallySports. She is also a Psychologist and has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Rohini, in her role as a UFC writer, combines her admiration for the mental resilience that MMA fighters have and her love for analysis.

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