Islam Makhachev explains why Dagestani fighters excel in wrestling

Islam Makhachev (left); Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestling with Islam Makhachev (right) (*Images courtesy: Islam Makhachev Instagram)
Islam Makhachev (left); Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestling with Islam Makhachev (right) (*Images courtesy: Islam Makhachev Instagram)

Islam Makhachev has explained why Dagestani fighters excel in wrestling. Makhachev suggested that wrestling is regarded as the national sport in the Russian region of Dagestan.

Speaking to Matt Serra and Jim Norton on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Islam Makhachev discussed multiple topics. The rising Dagestani star and longtime teammate of MMA legend Khabib Nurmagomedov explained why wrestling is so deeply embedded in Dagestani culture.

Matt Serra had words of high praise for Islam Makhachev. Serra told Makhachev that he was seemingly on a different level in his recent fight against a tough opponent in Drew Dober.

Islam Makhachev responded to this by crediting his Dagestani wrestling for his incredible performance against Dober. Makhachev stated:

“Because, brother, we have, you know, Dagestan have different level of wrestling skills; that’s why.”

Serra indicated that he’d love to know what makes Dagestani wrestling and fighting so effective, asking Islam Makhachev whether it’s the dedication or the tough geographical conditions they grow up in.

Serra noted that Dagestan is a beautiful place while also jesting that it’d be tough to get Wi-Fi there, owing to its remote mountainous terrain. Matt Serra proceeded to ask what makes Russia and Dagestan, in particular, such a special place in regards to wrestling. Makhachev replied by explaining:

“I think like, 90 percent, like, everybody wrestling because this is like national sport in Dagestan. That’s why people love this sport. We have many, many Olympic champions. And USA have national sport like football, but Dagestan, we have wrestling.”

Watch the interview below:

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Islam Makhachev spoke about wrestling and MMA during his younger years

Islam Makhachev (left); Thiago Moises (right)
Islam Makhachev (left); Thiago Moises (right)

Islam Makhachev recalled competing in wrestling, sambo, and MMA right from his younger years.

UFC Unfiltered co-host Jim Norton noted that he’d read about Islam Makhachev fighting as a kid – fighting kids from his city. Norton asked whether Makhachev fought them in wrestling matches or fights in school. Makhachev replied by saying:

“I did both; sometimes wrestling, sometimes MMA. When I was young, I am complete evolving, like, amateur wrestling, amateur sambo – Amateur, like, many, many sports.” (*Video courtesy: UFC; H/T Sportskeeda for the transcription)

Islam Makhachev is scheduled to face Thiago Moises in a five-round lightweight bout that’ll headline the UFC Vegas 31 fight card on July 17, 2021.

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Edited by Avinash Tewari
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