In January of this year it became known that Khabib Nurmagomedov decided to leave active work in MMA and will dedicate more time to his family. Orel wasn’t even stopped by his success as a coach. The MMAJunkie portal recognized Khabib as the best coach of 2022, but he again decided to leave triumphantly. The last person he supported was Islam Makhachev in a title fight with Charles Oliveira.
Since then, Nurmagomedov has appeared in the media only occasionally. For example, there was a good interview at a meeting at the MGM Grand. And now the head of the Eagle FC league, Shamil Zavurov, in an interview with Igor Lazorin, said that Khabib plans to attend the UFC 294 tournament in Abu Dhabi: “Khabib probably will not be in the corner. He will stop by for preparations, take a look and give some advice. And in order not to fly into a fight, there is no such thing. He won’t be there for a second, he won’t be there all the time, but he will come to the fight, yes. Let’s all go and support.”
An important point that is mentioned is that Orel will not be Makhachev’s deputy, but will simply be present as a fan.
Who is now the most dangerous for Makhachev?
Gaethje is the most dangerous opponent for Makhachev. Islam has never fought with such a striker.
The question is how this could affect Islam. It’s no secret that Khabib’s presence in the corner has always been important to him; The champion confirmed it after the fight with Alex Volkanovski: “Has Khabib’s absence affected me a lot? Probably yes, because 100% it would have given more. It would be better to work somewhere and his advice is very important. Few people in this sport can tell you what it’s like in combat. Khabib’s absence played a role. I have already had in many fights where he shouted a clue, I did this technique and I won.”
And the head coach of the Moscow team of the Russian MMA Union, Magomed Magomedov, confidently stated that Makhachev did not show the best version of himself precisely because of the absence of his main comrade: “Khabib Nurmagomedov’s absence had an impact. Because of this, there was more pressure on Islam, which it was not fully prepared for. She was a little agitated, not as calm as usual. Khabib was absent from the beginning of the preparation for this fight in order to control the entire process. He was missed as a team leader. Islam had a great responsibility: to be the captain. “This is a serious moral burden and Makhachev does not have as tough a character as Khabib.”
In Abu Dhabi, essentially the same conditions will exist, but they are complicated by the fact that Khabib will be somewhere nearby, everything will happen before his eyes. This is a very large burden of responsibility, in addition to what already exists. Nurmagomedov’s authority in the team is quite high, even taking into account the fact that he began to spend less time with her. So Islam will definitely take this factor into account, and it may partly hinder you in the battle itself.
In addition, many experts and fighters are confident that Makhachev will not have problems with Oliveira in the rematch. Everyone remembers well what happened in the first fight and expects the same dominance from the Russian. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that Carlos has nothing to lose, he has already lost to Islam, no great achievements are expected of him and, therefore, less pressure. Furthermore, the Brazilian will obviously draw conclusions from the first defeat and will not allow himself to make the same mistakes. I would like Makhachev to also be aware of this and not enter the fight too relaxed. If he believes in his invincibility beforehand, this will be complicated.
The UFC tried to bring Khabib back, but was rejected:
Khabib was offered to return for a historic fight. But the Eagle demanded too much
The Russian will definitely be pressured not only by the presence of Nurmagomedov as a spectator, but also by the constant parallels with Khabib. Every step Makhachev takes is compared in one way or another with what Oryol did. This is also not easy because comparisons often do not favor Islam. For example, quite a few people noted that Khabib didn’t let himself get hit and punched like Volkanovski did with Makhachev at the end of the fifth round.
This year in the UFC can already be called a year of surprises. Alexa Grasso, Sean O’Malley, Sean Strickland, partly Leon Edwards and Alexander Pantoja – few people believed in these guys and they all have championship belts today. It is unlikely that Khabib wants to see another big surprise live and see his friend and pupil’s belt taken away. This already happened once. In 2015, Nurmagomedov was very upset to see Adriano Martins knock out Makhachev. It is important that history does not repeat itself. But the irony is that Khabib can influence this in a negative way.
There is just under a month left until UFC 294.