At UFC 294, Islam Makhachev emerged as a dominant force, solidifying his reputation as one of the best mixed martial artists. Defending his UFC lightweight title with a jaw-dropping headkick KO over Alexander Volkanovski, Makhachev extended his impressive win streak to 13, boasting a remarkable record of 25-1, with his sole loss stemming from a KO defeat against Adriano Martins in 2015.
Back in the day, Makhachev wanted to strike with Martins, and had the support of AKA head coach Javier Mendes and decided to engage despite what Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov advised.
At the time, Nurmagomedov shared his experience of coaching Makhachev through camp:
Makhachev’s journey to lightweight excellence began with a pivotal victory over Charles Oliveira in 2022, following the retirement of his friend, teammate, and mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, in 2020.
UFC president Dana White is delightec with Makhachev’s remarkable journey and suggested he can surpass Khabib Nurmagomedov’s towering legacy.
“I don’t know if he really lives in Khabib’s shadow,” he said. “Tonight was a big step in the right direction. The guy has been dominant and then he goes in—all the controversy that came off the last fight—and he finishes this fight the way that he did.
“There’s no excuses,” he continued. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, it went into the third round, Volkanovski didn’t have time to train.’ He went in there and viciously, impressively finished this fight with a Cro Cop-esque kick to the head. It doesn’t get any better than that, against a very tough, durable guy who has a great chin. And you don’t ever see anybody do that to Volkanovski.”