While answering Laura Sanko's question during his appearance on UFC 260 weigh-in show, Khabib Nurmagomedov claimed that Islam Makhachev will be the lightweight champion by early 2021, if everything goes well. Khabib acknowledged that his opinion might be perceived as biased, since Islam Makhachev is Khabib's teammate and longtime friend. However, Khabib showed supreme confidence in his friend's ability to climb to the top.
"My opinion... In like the end of the year, beginning of the next year, it' going to be Islam Makhachev. Maybe people think I am just promoting. No. I know how good this kid is... You can talk to a lot of UFC fighters... like me, like DC, a lot of guys who ever competed with this guy, they know. If nothing happened, in 2022, Islam is gonna be the best lightweight in the world," Khabib Nurmagomedov said.
Islam Makhachev (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) is the No.11 ranked UFC lightweight. A longtime friend and teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev is touted as the next champion from the American Kickboxing Academy - the San Jose-based MMA gym that has produced champions like Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, and Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Islam Makhachev's last fight was a third-round submission win over Drew Dober at UFC 259 in March 2021. Currently riding a seven-fight winning streak under the UFC umbrella, Makhachev is expected to fight a top-ranked opponent in his next fight.
Khabib Nurmagomedov wants to share his knowledge of MMA with younger fighters
Khabib Nurmagomedov has always acknowledged the role of his coaches, teammates, and friends in his rise to the absolute top of the sport. Khabib said on the UFC 260 weigh-in show that although he has officially retired from the sport, he intends to help the younger fighters from his father's gym in Dagestan as well as AKA in their efforts to become UFC champions.
"Not like a head coach. We have a head coach, Javier Mendes. I'm going to assist him. I'm going to help him with my guys, I'm gonna help him with his guys in AKA... I love to help because I have so much knowledge of this sport... and I wanna share it with these young lions," Nurmagomedov said.
Apart from Islam Makhachev, Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov are other close associates of Khabib Nurmagomedov that compete in the UFC.