Khabib Nurmagomedov Praises Islam Makhachev’s Growth After UFC 302 Victory

“A deep fight shows true strength.”

Returning to the Corner

UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov expressed his confidence that lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will emerge from UFC 302 as a significantly improved fighter. Nurmagomedov, who was present in Makhachev’s corner at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, played a pivotal role in guiding his friend, training partner, and protégé to a successful title defense against Dustin Poirier.

A Tougher Challenge

Unlike Makhachev’s first title defense against Alexander Volkanovski, which went to a decision, this bout saw Poirier pushing Makhachev to his limits. Poirier was the first to inflict a cut on the champion, forcing Makhachev to dig deep for the victory. Nurmagomedov noted the intensity of the fight and was proud of Makhachev’s resilience and determination.

Khabib’s Praise

In a video shared on UFC’s social media channels, Nurmagomedov praised Makhachev’s growth and the depths he reached during the fight:

“For to be honest, today so Islam grew a lot. You don’t even understand, when you go so deep like today, it shows people that you understand your body and other things inside yourself and shows that you can go even deeper. All the time people underestimate themselves, their bodies, and their souls. We can go deeper than five rounds, ten rounds, it doesn’t matter. You have to find this, you have to be relaxed and find your way to go. How deep you can go, this was a very deep fight.”


A Special Return

This fight marked Nurmagomedov’s return to Makhachev’s corner for the first time since Makhachev won the title by defeating Charles Oliveira at UFC 280. Nurmagomedov had taken time away from the sport to be with his family but rejoined Makhachev for this crucial fight.

Strategic Insights

Nurmagomedov also highlighted the strategic preparations that went into the fight. Having faced Poirier himself, Nurmagomedov was well aware of the challenges his protégé would face. He emphasized the respect he holds for Poirier but reiterated the focus and readiness of their camp.

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