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"Submission wise, he's a better ground player than Khabib" - Deron Winn praises Islam Makhachev's grappling ahead of fight against Phil Hawes

Deron Winn gives his prediction for Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev [Right image credit: @deron_winn via Instagram]
Deron Winn gives his prediction for Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev [Right image credit: @deron_winn via Instagram]
Anwesha Nag

Khabib Nurmagomedov's close friend and protege, Islam Makhachev, takes on Kiwi lightweight Dan Hooker for his next challenge. The two will lock horns at UFC 267 on October 30 at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The MMA community was open-hearted in giving props to Dan Hooker for accepting the fight days after going through Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266. However, not many are ready to pick 'Hangman' as their potential winner, almost entirely based on Islam Makhachev's imposing ground game.

DAN HOOKER (@danthehangman) is stepping in to face Islam Makhachev (@MAKHACHEVMMA) at UFC 267 in one month, per Dana White (@danawhite). Just fought at UFC 266, on a week he had to fly from New Zealand to Vegas two days before the fight. What a savage, this guy. https://t.co/DJvGnbWwlF

UFC middleweight Deron Winn thinks the same of his American Kickboxing Academy teammate.

Speaking to Sportskeeda MMA's Andrew Whitelaw ahead of his upcoming UFC Fight Night 194 bout against Phil Hawes, Deron Winn picked the Dagestani fighter as his draw for the Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev fight. He went on to state that he believes Islam Makhachev is a better submission artist than Khabib Nurmagomedov.

"I think Dan Hooker is a great fighter and he has obviously shown over and over again that he's very, very tough. But I think that once he gets on the ground with Islam, it'll be two different leagues. I think Islam has been able to show that recently and Islam's ground game is crazy bro. I give them a hard time about this. Honestly, submission-wise, I think he is a better ground player than Khabib was. Submission-wise," Deron Winn said.
"Ground-and-pound, obviously, Khabib changed the game with that. He developed a style that you see a lot of guys in MMA do. There's actually, literally a Khabib-syle. I love him, I don't wanna take anything from him. But submission-wise, Islam is crazy good on the ground, bro."

Over the last couple of years, several MMA personalities, including Khabib Nurmagomedov's coach Javier Mendez and close friend and former UFC champion Daniel Cormier, have hailed Islam Makhachev as the only one capable of outclassing 'The Eagle' on the ground.


Deron Winn believes Islam Makhachev will hold the UFC lightweight belt soon

With eight consecutive wins in the UFC under his belt, the fight against Dan Hooker might very well be a step forward for Islam Makhachev towards the much-coveted lightweight title shot.

"Islam is a couple of fights away from a title shot and I do think one day he'll hold the title," Deron Winn said to Sportskeeda MMA.

Islam Makjachev is widely considered the next possible lightweight champion from Dagestan who will take on Khabib Nurmagomedov's mantle in the UFC. The belt is currently held by Brazil's Charles Oliveira, who will defend it against Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 in December.

Deron Winn discussed his upcoming fight against fellow middleweight Phil Hawes, AKA's dominance as a wrestling gym, 'DC' and Khabib in retirement, among other subjects, in his exclusive interview with Sportskeeda MMA.

Watch Deron Winn's full interview below:

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Edited by Avinash Tewari

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