Islam Makhachev said Khabib Nurmagomedov’s training sessions were even more intense than those organized by the former champion’s late father.
Khabib was coached by his father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov throughout a career that saw Dagestan win the UFC lightweight title and retain it twice before retiring undefeated in 2020. Abdulmanap also coached Makhachev, who has been friends with Khabib since childhood.
Khabib’s retirement came three months after his father died aged 57 from complications related to Covid, and the 33-year-old has since taken over coaching duties from Abdulmanap. So Khabib will be in Makhachev’s corner at UFC 280 in October, when the 30-year-old fights for the lightweight belt that “The Eagle” previously held.
When asked who organizes more intense training sessions – Abdulmanap or Khabib – Makhachev told ESPN. “I think of Khabib. Now he’s pushing us like crazy.
“He was always training hard, but now he sits down and just says, ‘Hey, do like this, this, this. But now he doesn’t feel how [it is]. That’s why he pushes us so hard.
Makhachev will face Charles Oliveira for the vacant UFC lightweight title in Abu Dhabi, where Khabib had his last fight, on Oct. 22.
Oliveira won the gold medal last May after Khabib vacated the belt, before retaining it in his first defense last December. The Brazilian was then stripped of the title in May, a day before his scheduled defense against Justin Gaethje, after losing weight.
Oliveira, 32, submitted Gaethje, whom Khabib also defeated by submission in his last contest, to establish himself as the No. 1 contender at 155 pounds.
Oliveira (33-8) enters UFC 280 on an 11-fight winning streak, while Makhachev (22-1) has won 10 fights in a row.