In a remarkable trajectory that mirrors the success of his close friend and training partner, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev has now achieved the coveted title of UFC lightweight champion. Holding the position of the second-ranked pound-for-pound fighter, Makhachev's journey serves as a testament to his unwavering commitment to the sport.
Recently, he opened up about his mother's desire for him to follow in the footsteps of the renowned UFC Hall of Famer and retire from professional fighting. This connection to Khabib not only as a peer but as a source of inspiration and mentorship deepens the narrative of Makhachev's rapid rise in the world of mixed martial arts.
"My mother doesn't watch fights. Not just my fights - fights in general. She doesn't like seeing people hit each other. When I came home, there were a lot of people there. She said, 'you're champion now. Wrap it up. Khabib listened to his mother.
When will you listen to yours?'"I told her Khabib defended his title, and I need to do the same. It's a hard topic for my mother. My father's the opposite. He watches all the fights." Islam Makhachev's championship reign includes a single successful defense thus far, but it's worth noting that this defense didn't come against a fellow lightweight fighter.
This divergence from traditional lightweight title defenses echoes Khabib Nurmagomedov's storied career, which featured three successful title defenses before his retirement, capping it with a pristine 29-0 record. Khabib, widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, made history as the longest-reigning lightweight champion in UFC history.
His remarkable journey was further celebrated in 2022 when he was deservedly inducted into the Hall of Fame. This recognition only solidified his legendary status in the sport. As for Islam Makhachev, the question of whether he will follow in Khabib's footsteps and retire during his prime remains uncertain.
The shadow of Khabib's retirement, with his unblemished record and Hall of Fame induction, adds a layer of complexity to Makhachev's career as he navigates the ever-evolving landscape of the lightweight division. Fans and pundits alike await the unfolding of his legacy with bated breath, eager to see if he, too, will etch his name into the annals of MMA greatness.