MMA analyst Daniel Cormier praised Islam Makhachev, suggesting the AKA product is one of the most talented fighters in the world.
Cormier and Makhachev are teammates at American Kickboxing Academy, alongside UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. With the champion contemplating retirement, fans and media have wondered who could make a run up the division if Nurmagomedov does indeed hang up his gloves. One of those fighters could be Makhachev, the No. 13 ranked UFC lightweight. The Russian is 7-1 overall in the UFC and is in his prime at 29 years old.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Cormier was asked who he believes could emerge as a potential champion at 155lbs if Nurmagomedov does retire. Though Cormier — who recently retired himself — was quick to point out his bias, “DC” said that he truly believes Makhachev could be a future champion.
When the topic of Khabib Nurmagomedov possibly relinquishing the #UFC lightweight title came up, Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) mentioned some of the frontrunners would be @CharlesDoBronxs & @MAKHACHEVMMA as well as others.
— SCMP MMA (@scmpmma) January 3, 2021
“I mean, come on man, I’m a homer. Islam Makhachev. I truly do, but not only because he’s one of my friends and teammates, but I really believe that Islam Makhachev is as talented as anyone in the world. And he does have the fighting style to present a lot of problems for people,” Cormier said.
“I think that because of the way he came into the UFC and he had that loss to Adriano Martins way back in the day in his second UFC fight (at UFC 192: Cormier vs. Gustafsson), and he doesn’t really jump off the page as much as Khabib does. Like his style doesn’t seem as aggressive, but trust me, he has all the abilities. And in his standup, he’s very, very well rounded and very skilled in that area of mixed martial arts. As you guys saw earlier in Khabib’s career, he struggled there, he wasn’t polished. He’s much more polished today. Islam is there already and ready to truly make a run at the top of the division.”
Makhachev has actually been in the UFC for over five years now, making his promotional debut back in 2015, but he hasn’t been able to build enough momentum to make a run for the belt as of yet. In 2020, Makhachev was not able to fight at all due to a combination of injuries and Rafael dos Anjos testing positive for COVID-19. But if he can stay healthy and make it to his upcoming fight with Drew Dober, Cormier believes he can make a run for the title.
Do you agree with Daniel Cormier that Islam Makhachev could be a future UFC champion?