Khabib Nurmagomedov's official Facebook page recently featured a video of an old fight between teammate Islam Makhachev and Mansour Barnaoui.
In the caption, Khabib Nurmagomedov wrote:
"It was Islam Makhachev's toughest fight... But my father and I were there for him."
The video shows Khabib Nurmagomedov and his father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, in Islam Makhachev's corner. The father-son duo were seen constantly motivating Islam Makhachev in a gruelling bout against 'The Afro Samurai' Mansour Barnaoui.
The fight took place at M-1 Challenge 38 in April 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. As can be seen in the footage, Islam Makhachev was having a tough time dealing with the pressure that his incredibly talented opponent brought.
Nevertheless, Islam Makhachev, a traditional wrestler, responded to Barnaoui's strikes with those of his own. Later in the competition, Makhachev managed to execute brilliant takedowns.
The exchanges and flurries between the two were a fight fan's dream. Both fighters absorbed whatever their opponent threw whilst dishing out menacing strikes of their own.
Islam Makhachev showed composure in his striking and doubled down on the grappling. This strategy helped him bag a unanimous victory against a formidable opponent in Mansour Barnaoui. As Khabib Nurmagomedov wrote in his caption, this fight was perhaps the toughest one so far in Islam Makhachev's career.
What prediction does Khabib Nurmagomedov have for Islam Makhachev's future?
Khabib Nurmagomedov has, on countless occasions, stated that Islam Makhachev will be the future UFC lightweight champion. He most recently reiterated his stance on the UFC 260 weigh-in show. Khabib Nurmagomedov said:
"My opinion... In like the end of the year, beginning of the next year, it's [UFC Lightweight Champion] 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."
Apart from Khabib Nurmagomedov, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov also saw a future champion in Islam Makhachev. Speaking about his relationship with Khabib's late father in an interview with ESPN's Bret Okamoto, Islam Makhachev said:
"Khabib's father told me all the time, when Khabib retires you're gonna be next champion. I have to do this, because father all the time told me, 'You're gonna be champion. You're gonna be the next champion."