‘Islam Beat the Cr*p Out of Him’- Javier Mendez Reveals How Khabib Nurmagomedov Got Better at Striking

Published 08/10/2021, 11:43 AM EDT
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: (R-L) Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia punches Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Khabib Nurmagomedov is hands down the greatest lightweight fighter to grace the UFC Octagon. However, he retired from the sport and announced his decision after his UFC 254 win against Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov tipped his teammate Islam Makhachev to take his position at the top after walking away from the sport.

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‘The Eagle’ was predominantly a grappler. However, with time, he got better at striking as well. Most notably, he was the first fighter to knock down Conor McGregor in his career. That’s a brilliant feat considering the fact McGregor was invincible in stand-up at that point in time. His coach Javier Mendez recently revealed what prompted the undefeated Dagestani to improve his striking.

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Well, it seems it was not necessarily an opponent behind his improvement. Rather, it was Makhachev who made Nurmagomedov do so by consistently schooling him in training.

Khabib got better at knees because he got tired of Islam beating the cr*p out of him. Islam beat the cr*p out of him so next thing you know, Khabib’s like ‘I’ve even got knee pads’ because I wouldn’t allow these guys to throw knees if they don’t have knee pads so I’ve been getting his knee pads because Islam is beating the cr*p out of him.” Mendez spoke to Mike Swick in the Real Quick with Mike Swick podcast.

So that’s how the progression came. That’s how good Islam was. So he was able to adapt and learn from other people Khabib was more loyal,” Mendez added explaining how Makhachev has trained with different coaches to improve his striking. But Nurmagomedov has only trained with Mendez and his late father, Abdulmanap.

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Can Islam Makhachev be as successful as Khabib Nurmagomedov?

Makhachev is one of the brightest prospects of the lightweight division of the UFC. He certainly has the potential to become a future champion. And with Nurmagomedov by his side, he has great mentors as well.

CALGARY, AB – JULY 28: Islam Makhachev of Russia celebrates after his submission victory over Kajan Johnson of Canada in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Scotiabank Saddledome on July 28, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Makhachev will next fight former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. The fight will be an accurate test of the Dagestani’s abilities. But the recent revelation from his coach Mendez was an interesting one.

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Apratim Banerjee

1174 articles

Apratim Banerjee is an MMA author for EssentiallySports and has been writing professionally for almost a year. Before his current gig, Apratim worked as a UFC writer for Sportskeeda. A long-time MMA fan, Apratim has developed a critical eye for the sport that has helped him transfer his vast knowledge to his copies and give hardcore and casual readers a detailed insight into the fights and fighters.

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