UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev's first sparring partner at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) was Leon Edwards, the Dagestani fighter revealed. Makhachev claimed that he "controlled" Edwards on the ground and said that the Brit was a different fighter back when he used to train at AKA.
Islam Makhachev joined his friend Khabib Nurmagomedov at the renowned gym in 2012. On the first day of training, coach Javier Mendez treated him to a sparring session against Edwards, Makhachev said in his recent interview with RT Sport MMA.
"Yes, I remember my first day at AKA. I came in and saw they had sparrings in the cage," said Makhachev. "It was the time Leon Edwards was training at AKA, who is now a top fighter at 170 lbs. So coach Javier (Mendez) is warning us: 'guys, be careful, he is a very good striker, watch out for his left kick', and I am like, 'whoa, it's my first sparring at AKA, I have to prove myself, and he is a dangerous striker'. So, as the fight started, I just took him down straightaway and was controlling him on the ground. I just wanted to do well in my first sparring. Although Leon Edwards was a different fighter back then," said Makhachev (translation courtesy: RT Sport MMA).
Edwards joined Team Renegade BJJ & MMA in 2016, and he is all set to face Belal Muhammad on March 13 at UFC Vegas 21.
Islam Makhachev returns to action after a year and a half
Islam Makhachev will mark his return to the octagon at UFC 259 on March 6, 2021. The 29-year-old Dagestani's last fight was in September 2019 against Davi Ramos, which he won comfortably via unanimous decision (29–27, 30–26, 30–26).
His next opponent is Drew Dober, who is on a three-fight win streak. Although a win over him might not help Makhachev climb the ranks in the lightweight division, it could certainly set him up for a big fight in his next outing.
The Russian has only been defeated once in his professional MMA career, and has since won six consecutive fights.