Former UFC champ explains why he considers Islam Makhachev to be “Khabib 2.0”!
Khabib Nurmagomedov is firm in his belief that Islam Makhachev will succeed him as the next dominant UFC lightweight king. Their former teammate Luke Rockhold seems to agree, and believes that “Khabib 2.0” is unlike any other lightweight on the planet.
At UFC 278 this weekend former middleweight champion Rockhold will make his return to the octagon for the first time since his knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz over three years ago. The AKA veteran faces off against top-ranked Paulo Costa in the co-main event. Just a couple of months later Makhachev will challenge Charles Oliveira as they headline UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi the 22nd of October. The fight will be for the vacant title, since “do Bronx” Oliveira was stripped of his belt following his failure to make weight ahead of UFC 274. However, inofficially and among fans, the Brazilian is still considered the legitimate champion, and he’s certainly a tough puzzle to solve. Oliveira has finished his opponents in all three of his title fights, and has looked increasingly dangerous with each outing.
Despite Oliveira’s impressive record over the last few years, Rockhold isn’t worried about his former teammate. He believes that the Dagestani fighter will show “a different level of control” once he grabs ahold of Oliveira – a prediction based on his previous sparring experiences with both Makhachev and Khabib.
“I used to use Islam as one of my sparring partners when I fought (Lyoto Machida) back in the day,” Rockhold told Ag Fight in a recent interview. “No (155)-pounder works with me like this then gives me a good go. Khabib, grappling, yes. But Islam was a better striker. We always said he was this 2.0 because he was a better striker. Maybe not the control that Khabib had but he always had this knack for striking that was just above Khabib at the time. But he still had this Master of Sport grappling and sambo.
“There’s no one like these two that I’ve felt at 155 pounds that can actually give me a run for my money and make me work — really, really work. I just expect a different level of control. If Islam gets ahold of Charles he’s gonna slow that psycho down. I love that psycho but I’m very excited for the fight.”
Oliveira vs. Makhachev is an exciting fight that promises fireworks for UFC fans around the world. It will also be the first time that two fighters compete for a UFC title with more than ten straight wins each! A lot will be at stake at UFC 280, and the winner could potentially rule over the division for a very long time.
Do you think Islam Makhachev could surpass Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC?
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