Relegated to the Fight Pass prelims for his UFC debut, Islam Makhachev was not about to allow his opportunity to go by unnoticed. Armed with his longtime coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the touted Dagestani lightweight proceeded to dazzle in his promotional debut en route to a second round submission finish against Leo Kuntz.
In fact, his performance was so impressive that it earned an encore on the PPV broadcast following the conclusion of the evening's main event. The touted prospect had officially become a lightweight hopeful.
Makhachev spent the majority of his time in Dagestan at FightSpirit Team under the tutelage of Khabib Nurmagomedov's father, Abdulmanap. However, ahead of his UFC debut, Islam travelled to San Jose, where he completed six weeks of training with some of the American Kickboxing Academy's finest.
"I came to the US six weeks before the fight and I was training here with some of the best coaches at AKA," Makhachev told media members following UFC 187. "I was in top shape. That was my best shape ever."
Apart from his extensive training at AKA, Makhachev revealed that Khabib's advice ahead of the fight was invaluable.
"He supported me the whole time and he explained to me that it is going to be the same experience that you had before. All eleven fights, all the opponents were the same. It is nothing special. He told me not to worry, stay relaxed and do my job."
That was exactly what Makhachev did in his UFC debut. With the patience and poise of a fighter far more experienced than him, he locked in a second-round rear-naked choke to secure his 12th professional victory and remain undefeated in mixed martial arts.
Following the fight, Islam, who used Khabib as a post-fight translator in the Octagon, explained that his confidence arose from the fact that he is certain no other lightweight can beat him after training with Khabib.
"[Khabib] is the best lightweight in the world and after training with him every day I know that there's no other lightweight out there who can beat me."