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Welcome to the UFC, Islam Makhachev

A new, promising Dagestani fighter makes his way to the UFC's lightweight division.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Honestly, there's not a lot that I can write about Islam Makhachev that Patrick Wyman hasn't already. Not only did he have Makhachev ranked no. 12 on his list of future champions, he also had him listed as one of his top five unsigned talents in MMA. That's a lot of high praise for the young fighter out of Dagestan. Makhachev's signing announcement was made by his longtime training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov via Sqor Sports. Nurmagomedov reports that he expects Makhachev to make his UFC debut in February or March of 2015. Most of his career has been spent at lightweight, but it's unclear yet if that's where he'll debut. So...

Who is Islam Makhachev?

The 22-year old Makhachev isn't exactly an easy fighter to track down in terms of training. He's been a longtime training partner of Khabib's, over in Dagestan, but he's not affiliated with any of the major MMA camps. Apparently he trains out of Fight Spirit Team, but has also spent significant time training under Nurmagomedov's father. He brings an 11-0 undefeated record with him to the UFC and it's a very strong record. Victories over longtime vets Ivica Truscek and Yuri Ivlev are supported by victories over other promising prospects in Mansour Barnaoui, Rander Junio, Valdimir Egoyan, and Migel Grigoryan. It's a record that speaks to a talented fighter being given just the right tests along his career and into the UFC. To go with his MMA career, he's a Russian Combat Sambo Champion, which has shown itself time and again to be a pretty terrific base skill.

What you should expect:

On his feet, Makhachev is very much a winging striker. He throws big, wide hooks with speed and power and accuracy. The technique isn't necessarily there, but much like Nurmagomedov, his using of timing and distance control makes his striking much more dangerous than it otherwise might be. Beyond his striking, Makhachev is a very, very good wrestler and controlling grappler. He has an excellent, and complicated shot, moving well to change angles on his takedowns while also switching between singles, doubles, trips, and throws. If he's looking to take a fighter down, it's very likely that he will, one way or another. Once on the ground, he does an excellent job finding dominant positions, be it half guard, side control or mount. He's not the best at controlling those positions, something that more BJJ training might make him more adept at, but his excellent scrambling skills keep him from getting in too much danger even when he loses position. He's already shown some grappling flair, hitting a mounted triangle from crucifix his last time out.

To get us better acquainted, here's his last bout against Ivica Truscek: