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“Will Surprise Many”: Team Khabib Hints at ‘Unseen Striking Abilities’ of Islam Makhachev Ahead of UFC 302

Kishore R

“Will Surprise Many”: Team Khabib Hints at ‘Unseen Striking Abilities’ of Islam Makhachev Ahead of UFC 302

Having decimated Alexander Volkanovski with a headkick, Islam Makhachev has to feel confident about his striking abilities. Especially now that he’s up against the division’s best boxer, a veteran coming for the only thing he has yet to achieve in the sport. However, it would appear that ‘Team Khabib’ might have some secret recipe to deal with Poirier’s hot sauce.

UFC’s lightweight king, Islam Makhachev is gearing up for his third title defense and he will be going up against the fighter who came closest to beating Khabib’s undefeated streak. Not just that, Poirier is a freak of a technical striker with uncanny power, even from short distances.

So, even if Islam wants to grapple, he will still be running the risk of getting too close to Poirier for comfort. That is unless he is willing to get into a striking contest with the Louisiana native, even briefly.

But if one could be a fly on the walls of the Dagestani camp, they would be able to watch Islam’s ‘unseen striking abilities’. But since that’s not the case we must take the words of his striking coach, Magomedgadzhi Bagandov made a bold claim. 

With merely days remaining for the bout on June 1 at UFC 302, Bagandov promised that Makhachev’s versatility as a fighter will be on full display when he takes on Poirier in what would be the last title shot of the latter’s career.

Everyone talks about his wrestling but I think he hasn’t fully revealed his skills in striking. This is actually a good thing as he will surprise many. Even in interviews, many people analyze him In my opinion, as a striking coach , he hasn’t fully revealed his potential in this area. Yeah, he is a versatile fighter and I’m looking forward to the fight where he will show this aspect of his abilities.” 

Through the years, Makhachev has even cruised past Khabib in terms of sheer versatility, sharpening his striking to the point of KOing the Pound for Pound King Volkanovski with a vicious head kick – a feat unaccomplished by none.

While he has also been put to sleep once in his UFC career by Adriano Martins back in 2015, that is a long time back, and ever since that, he has only upped his game, stepping on the gas to go speed with his training. Since then, he has earned two KO wins over Volkanovski and southpaw Bobby Green.

But if you were to tell that to Dustin Poirier, he would tell you it doesn’t matter. Not Islam, not Khabib, not their friend and fellow Louisiana native Daniel Cormier, none of it. He is going to put Makhachev to sleep and that’s about the extent of his belief system going into the fight.

Dustin Poirier returns fire, vows to put Islam Makhachev to sleep

One might take Makhachev’s comments about Poirier not being a threat as disrespectful but the Dagestani has cleared the air, saying that he would not underestimate him or his boxing skills.

However, Poirier didn’t find it amusing when Makhachev revealed his “easy game plan” for him.

The former lightweight interim champion slapped back at the champ for his comments. In an exclusive to YahooSports, he said,

“I’m going to knock him unconscious and the ref is going to be pulling me off of him.” 

With Poirier coming out for blood, hell-bent on not leaving it to the judges and Makhachev getting in the cage to defend his belt and legacy, fans are going to get one heck of a PPV at UFC 302!

About the author

Kishore R

Kishore R


Kishore is a UFC writer at The SportsRush. It was a YouTube video of 1989’s Fight of the Year bout between Roberto Duran and Iran Barkley that got him hooked on the thrill of the gladiator sport. Later that insatiable thirst and yearning for controlled violence got him to the defunct PRIDE FC, which was the king of MMA promotions till the Ultimate Fighting Championship broke into the scene. Along with his undying passion for the sport and his experience as a writer, penning more than a thousand articles, Kishore is amalgamating his technical understanding of the sport with his stellar storytelling prowess. From Fedor’s unrivaled reign to the newest crowning of Alex Pereira, he has been religiously following the sport and wishes to see Tony Ferguson bounce back and showcase his old swagger - “IT’S TONY TIME!”

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