Russian Wrestling legend Aleksandr Karelin doesn’t even know which sport Islam Makhachev is doing

In an unexpected turn of events, wrestling icon Aleksandr Karelin, a dominant force in Greco-Roman wrestling, revealed a surprising gap in his knowledge when asked about Islam Makhachev. Despite Makhachev’s global acclaim, Karelin, attending the Ivan Yarygin Cup 2024, admitted to having no knowledge of the UFC lightweight champion.

Islam Makhachev has rapidly risen to fame within the MMA community, showcasing exceptional skills honed under the guidance of Khabib Nurmagomedov. While not yet reaching the level of Khabib’s stardom, Makhachev’s popularity surged through his remarkable performances and achievements in the UFC.

Trained extensively in Sambo and wrestling, Makhachev’s journey to the top culminated in a dominant victory over former champion Charles Oliveira for the vacant belt in October 2022. Beyond this triumph, Makhachev continued to refine his abilities, notably enhancing his striking game. This refinement was evident in his two bouts against Alexander Volkanovski, with a unanimous decision win in the first and a stunning first-round knockout in the rematch.

Makhachev’s global recognition would lead one to assume that even legendary Russian athletes are familiar with his prowess. However, during the interview at the Ivan Yarygin Cup, Aleksandr Karelin revealed his lack of involvement in mixed martial arts, expressing unfamiliarity with Islam Makhachev.

When questioned about Makhachev, Karelin responded with curiosity, asking, “What sport is he from?” The interviewer proceeded to enlighten Karelin about Makhachev’s achievements and his notable victory over Charles Oliveira.

Aleksandr Karelin, known for his unparalleled success in Greco-Roman wrestling, boasts an impressive record of being undefeated for 13 years in the heavyweight division. His iconic “Karelin Lift” and intimidating presence made him a legend in the wrestling world. With three consecutive Olympic gold medals from 1988 to 1996, Karelin held an unbeaten streak for over a decade in international competition.