Part of recent MMA folklore are stories of how Khabib Nurmagomedov is also undefeated in the gym. Legend has it that “The Eagle” outworks and outpaces a lot of his teammates regardless of size, and there are videos to support such claims.
But according to American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez, his now-retired prized protégé wasn’t always undefeated on the mats. In a recent episode of Submission Radio, he named that one fighter who was able to steal some sparring rounds.
“In all the history, since 2012, since Khabib’s been doing sparring with me in front of my eyes, there has been nobody that’s ever taken a round from him. No one’s ever won a sparring session. Not a sparring session with Khabib ever. Except one man. Islam.
“He’s the only one that has won rounds from Khabib. Never won a session, but he’s won rounds. And I’ve never seen that.
“So, obviously when Khabib talks about the next heir, he’s not saying something that he’s trying to make up and make people believe. He knows, like I know, how good his Islam is. That’s why he’s so confident in what he’s saying.
“Khabib’s not known to say something that he doesn’t mean. And he means it, I mean it. And now it’s time for Islam to go out there and shine and let everybody know what Khabib already knows and I know, that he’s the best right now.
“He is the best. And we have to prove it and we will prove it.”
Makhachev will get a chance to prove all the talk when he faces former champion Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 280. The two will headline the October 22nd event in Abu Dhabi.