Islam Makhachev reflects on sparring session with UFC champion Leon Edwards: “I took him down and held him”

By Josh Evanoff - May 30, 2024

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is opening up on his experience training with Leon Edwards.

Islam Makhachev, Leon Edwards

This Saturday night in New Jersey, the Russian is set to headline UFC 302. Standing in Islam Makhachev’s way is longtime contender and former interim champion, Dustin Poirier. Heading into the contest, the lightweight champion has been upfront about the fact that he’s already looking to 170 pounds.

For the last few months, Islam Makhachev has shown interest in a clash with welterweight champion Leon Edwards. As of now, ‘Rocky’ is set to headline UFC 304 in Manchester, in a rematch with Belal Muhammad. However, Edwards had previously accepted a deal to face Makhachev in the main event of UFC 300 in April.

That bout failed to come to fruition, as Islam Makhachev declined due to Ramadan. However, the lightweight champion still has his eyes on Leon Edwards. Speaking in a recent interview with ESPN MMA‘s Daniel Cormier, he discussed his brief time training with the welterweight. ‘DC’ stated that Edwards had given Makhachev some trouble in their sparring session.


Islam Makhachev reflects on sparring session with UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards

However, Islam Makhachev stated that his longtime friend wasn’t telling the truth. According to the lightweight champion, he had taken down Leon Edwards and held him there. While Makhachev stated that ‘Rocky’ might’ve improved his wrestling in the years since their sparring session, he’s still confident he will win.

“I know I can be double champion.” Islam Makhachev stated in the interview, discussing his future plans to face Leon Edwards. “I can beat Edwards. I’ve known his name from my first day in the U.S. I know him. No [he didn’t give my any problems], it was my first sparring session in the U.S. Now people understand [Cormier] lies. My first sparring session in the U.S. was Leon.”

He continued, “…I knew, I couldn’t lose first sparring in the cage. When time began, I went double leg and took him down. But at that time, he wasn’t a good wrestler. He came to [AKA] to learn. Maybe right now he’s good at wrestling and can defend. But at that time, his big [struggle] was wrestling. I took him down, and I held him.”

What do you make of these comments from the UFC lightweight champion? Do you want to see Leon Edwards vs. Islam Makhachev in the future?