KEY POINTS

  • UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev is being hyped as Khabib Nurmagomedov's successor
  • Ex-UFC champ Daniel Cormier lauds Makhachev's skills
  • Makhachev's coach claims the lightweight sensation beat Nurmagomedov in sparring

Former UFC two-division champion Daniel Cormier is thrilled about Islam Makhachev’s rise to stardom.

After a six-fight winning streak in the UFC, Makhachev has now gained recognition from one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Cormier spoke highly of Makhachev.

According to “DC,” Makhachev could actually beat Nurmagomedov just by looking at the 29-year-old’s fighting style.

"You could see that this kid was kind of like Khabib, with a little tighter stand-up," Cormier said of Makhachev. "Today, Khabib will tell you he'll stand and strike with whoever he wants to. Islam [Makhachev] seemed a little more ready to go."

"Straight wrestling, among all of those guys, Islam is the best one," he added. "In straight wrestling, I think he would beat Khabib."

Makhachev joined the world-renowned American Kickboxing Academy in 2012 where he trained with Cormier and Nurmagomedov while being mentored by head coach Javier Mendez.

What’s even more interesting is that Cormier revealed that Nurmagomedov himself even agreed his countryman can possibly become his only credible successor .

"You knew as long as Khabib was the champion, Islam was going to take a slower approach to moving up the rankings," the 41-year-old explained. "But now, Khabib and I talked about it, everybody believes that Islam can be the man. Now, with Khabib [retired], I believe now [Islam] starts to make his ascent."

The UFC’s lightweight division is stacked with a handful of world-class fighters. Despite the stiff competition, Nurmagomedov is certain Makhachev will rise to the top of the food chain.

"Now, everybody talks about Dustin [Poirier], Conor [McGregor], [Michael] Chandler, Justin [Gaethje], [Charles] Oliveira. But by the end of the year, it's gonna be changed,” the UFC’s pound-for-pound king said.

"I don't think anyone can beat [Makhachev] right now,” he continued. He will run [the division]. I really believe his era is on the way.”

Throughout his stellar professional MMA career, Nurmagomedov only lost two rounds. However, according to Mendez, he personally witnessed “The Eagle” actually lost a round of sparring to Makhachev.

“There’s no secret, I’ve always said, when people ask me about Khabib sparring, that he’s never lost a sparring session ever in the history of sparring with me, ever,” Mendez recently told Helen Yee Sports. “I’d say he’s lost a round here or there, and the thing that I’ve never said is who, and the person who [has won rounds against Khabib] is Islam.”

“He’s the only one that’s won a round against Khabib, ever. Ever. Ever,” the trainer continued. “He’s the only one who’s ever done it. No one’s ever beat Khabib in a round never, in all the years that he’s been with me. So if Islam is winning a round here or there, how good is Islam?”

Islam Makhachev Islam Makhachev inside the octagon against Brazil's Davi Ramos at UFC 242. Photo: Getty Images / Francois Nel