“I have a lot of faith in him” – Khabib Nurmagomedov says protege Saygid Izagakhmaev will soon be the "best in the world"

(left) Khabib Nurmagomedov and (right) Saygid Izagakhmaev [Credit: ONE Championship]
Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) and Saygid Izagakhmaev (right) [Credit: ONE Championship]

MMA living legend Khabib Nurmagomedov has a lot of faith that his Eagles MMA protege Saygid Izagakhmaev will soon be the best ONE lightweight in the world.

Saygid Izagakhmaev is scheduled to face No.5-ranked contender Shinya Aoki in a potential world-title eliminator bout at ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong.

The Dagestani fighter quickly rose to contention following two massive victories this year. They came against former ONE welterweight world title challenger James Nakashima and MMA veteran Zhang Lipeng.

Winning one match by submission and the other by dominant decision, Nurmagomedov believes his protege is on track to make a real impact at ONE Championship.

Speaking about Izagakhmaev, the former UFC lightweight world champion told ONE:

“He’s getting physically stronger and stronger. He’s getting more and more experienced from fight to fight and soon, he’s going to be the best – not only in our team, but in the world. I have a lot of faith in him.”

Watch Khabib Nurmagomedov coach Izagakhmaev for a submission win:


Izagakhmaev has trained under Nurmagomedov's late father, Abdulmanap, since his teenage years. However, where Izagakhmaev differs from his mentor is his ability to incorporate a strong standup game into his wrestling.

With a solid foundation in Muay Thai and boxing, he’s a well-rounded fighter who just needs the right opponent to help him unleash his inner beast. Perhaps Shinya Aoki would be the right man for the task.

Saygid Izagakhmaev says a win over Shinya Aoki will propel his MMA career

Saygid Izagakhmaev is excited to face one of the most prolific MMA fighters in the world, the legendary ‘Tobikan Judan’ Shinya Aoki.

The 39-year-old veteran is a great challenge for any athlete. Aoki’s MMA performances are a tour de force. Currently tied with former ONE strawweight world champion Alex Silva for the most submission wins in ONE Championship, Shinya Aoki is hooked on getting his tenth.

Understanding the career-altering implications of beating the best submission specialist in the world, the Dagestani fighter told ONE what it would mean for him to get that win:

“He’s a veteran of this sport and a former ONE world champion, so a win over a fighter like Aoki will push me forward significantly. It will be a huge win for all our team.”

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Edited by Virat Deswal
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