Islam Makhachev Says Luke Rockhold Called Him the ‘Michael Jordan’ of UFC

Published 08/22/2021, 10:56 AM EDT
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – APRIL 18: Islam Makhachev of Russia interacts with the media during the UFC Fight Night Ultimate Media Day at Hotel Astoria on April 18, 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


A former combat sambo world champion, Islam Makhachev is perhaps one of the most gifted grapplers in the lightweight division. Training under the tutelage of Javier Mendez at the American Kickboxing Academy, the 29-year-old has the opportunity to work and learn from some of the most decorated fighters in the UFC. Fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier, and many more.

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Makhachev compared to legendary athlete

A rising star in his own right, Makhachev’s high-level grappling allows for him to be a great sparring partner, exposing the various flaws in many of his teammate’s grappling knowledge.

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In a recent interview appearance with RT sport, Islam Makhachev took a stroll down memory lane, remembering the time he was a sparring partner for Luke Rockhold.

” So we sparred a lot of time, and I don’t remember a single case where I failed to do a judo double leg takedown on him. It was more than once or two, five or ten times, much more. So he comes in for another sparring, gives me small gloves, and says: Today you won’t throw me. So the sparring starts, and I throw him again, and he is in the air, truly upset and already shouting loud. I don’t know; he has such long legs, maybe that’s why I always did it so easily. He was really angry and focused on our sparring, like, ‘You’re not going to do that today. And then he said ‘ You are like Jordan in basketball in terms of those throws’. But those were hard sparring sessions for me. I was really happy when his training camp was over.” 


 Considering the fact that Luke Rockhold is two-weight classes above Makhachev, one can imagine the flawless technique and strength the Russian possesses in order to rag doll a man twice his size.  

UFC 267: Islam Makhachev vs Rafael dos Anjos 

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A fight has fallen apart twice now. Makhachev vs RDA is finally about to take place at UFC 267. Riding on an eight-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev recently picked up a fourth-round submission victory against Thiago Moises and is now the no.5 lightweight in the division according to UFC rankings.   

A veteran of the sport, Rafael dos Anjos will be Makhachev’s toughest and most experienced opponent to date. An impressive win over a marquee fighter like RDA might earn Makhachev a title shot or a title contender fight, at the very least.

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What do you think? Can Islam Makhachev get the win against RDA? Let us know in the comments.

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David Andrew

147 articles

David Andrew is an MMA author at EssentiallySports with a background in English Literature from St. Stephens College. Prior to his current role, David, who combines his passion for writing and combat sports, contributed to the MMA divisions at Sportskeeda and The Sportsrush.

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