‘They’re completely different’ American kickboxing coach Javier Mendez claims Islam Makhachev doesn’t have Khabib’s personality despite comparable fighting style

Javier Mendez, the founder of American Kickboxing Academy, disagrees with the notion that the No. 4 ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev has often been compared to his longtime buddy and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov owing to their similar fighting styles.

Islam Makhachev‘s performance has prompted many to compare him to fellow Dagestani Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is widely considered the greatest lightweight fighter of all time.

While combat fans have always drawn similarities between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Islam Makhachev for the last several years, it has grown leaps and bounds after Nurmagomedov’s retirement. Though, these two fighters convey huge dissimilarities in so many staffs. 

The two Dagestani lightweights have used a similar strategy in the octagon, with a physically intimidating, grappling-heavy style that frequently leads to them mauling opponents on the ground. ‘The Eagle’ also serves as Makhachev’s mentor and coach. 

While their coach Mendez argues that although Makhachev and Nurmagomedov are not biologically related, they are nonetheless as close as brothers despite having very different personalities. 

“Islam doesn’t have taglines. He doesn’t have great lines that he says. Islam is not out there doing what Khabib does. They’re completely opposite. Islam’s an adventure-type guy…he loves horse riding, dirt riding, and things of that nature. They’re completely different and Islam has been 100% comfortable with his role and he’s never wanted to be Khabib,” Mendez stated. 

Although Makhachev and Nurmagomedov have been frequently compared, it should come as no surprise that Mendez, who has spent considerable time with both fighters, has a deeper understanding than anyone else inside and outside the ring.

Considering the similarities, American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez claims Makhachev has never felt obligated to live up to Nurmagomedov’s legacy, let alone that he was a clone.

“[Makhachev] never copied [Nurmagomedov] from the beginning and he never felt pressure from the beginning,” Mendez said during an interview. “Islam was Islam right from the get-go. He knew what he was going to do. He knew his path and he had an example in Khabib to follow, but he wasn’t following in Khabib’s footsteps. It was Islam’s footsteps. It was his own identity.”

Makhachev, with a 10-fight winning streak, has already been anticipated as a future champion before even taking on Oliveira in the UFC 280 main event on Saturday. Mendez noticed this about Makhachev the moment he stepped foot in his gym in San Jose, California.

While Makhachev has frequently been distinguished by his suffocating wrestling and devastating grappling attacks, Mendez promises that if they chose to unleash them at UFC 280, they will have a lot more weapons in their inventory.


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