Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coach details one skill the UFC legend ‘needs to master’

Khabib retired unbeaten as lightweight champion, and he now coaches the incumbent Islam Makhachev – his childhood friend from Dagestan

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 18 June 2024 10:19
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Khabib Nurmagomedov’s former coach Javier Mendez has explained that the UFC legend is yet to “master” the art of cornering fighters.

Khabib retired undefeated as lightweight champion in 2020, and he now coaches reigning title holder Islam Makhachev – his childhood friend from Dagestan – alongside Mendez.

Nurmagomedov, 35, is not always in Makhachev’s corner, but he was present at UFC 302 this month, as his mentee submitted Dustin Poirier to retain the title.

“He needs to master the corner, though,” Mendez told journalist Helen Yee at the weekend. “We still need to work the corner, because he goes a little crazy on there, up and down, slamming on the table.

“I said, ‘Calm down, calm down.’ He gets really amped up. I mean, he loves his fighters so much – his brothers – that you know, everything goes into that fight when he goes [into the corner].

“I forgot what it was like to have him in the corner. It’s kind of crazy. I gave him instructions on, ‘Hey, it’s okay to do what you need to do, but just sit down. Yell as loud as you can to get your fighters’ attention, you don’t have to hit the table, stand up and cause the commission to keep telling us to sit down.’

“So, I said: ‘Scream louder, scream as loud as you can.’ He goes, ‘Coach, how am I going to reach him?’ I go, ‘Scream, scream as loud as you can.’

“You’ve got to be able to say things within reason, because you’ve got to listen to the crowd. The crowd’s screaming, there’s nothing you can say [to top them]. The fighter ain’t going to hear nothing.”

Makhachev submitted Poirier in the fifth and final round of their main event at UFC 302, securing a third successful lightweight title defence.

In doing so, the 32-year-old matched Khabib’s number of title defences. Khabib won the belt in 2018 and retained it later that year against Conor McGregor, before beating Poirier in 2019 and Justin Gaethje in 2020.

Khabib, who submitted all three men, retired immediately after beating Gaethje.

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