‘Today Islam grew a lot’: Khabib Nurmagomedov praises Makhachev’s performance at UFC 302

Khabib Nurmagomedov believes UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will walk away from UFC 302 as a much better fighter.

The UFC Hall of Famer was in Makhachev’s corner at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., helping guide his lifelong friend, training partner, and pupil to a successful title-defending submission victory over Dustin Poirier in the UFC 302 main event.

Although this fight did not go the distance like Makhahcev’s first title defense over Alexander Volkanovski, Poirier pushed Makhachev hard, and became the first to open cuts on the champ. Nurmagomedov noticed how hard Makhachev had to fight for the victory, and was pleased at how he persevered.

“To be honest, today Islam grew a lot,” Nurmagomedov said in a video on UFC’s social media. “You don’t even understand. When you go deep like today, it shows people you understand your body, and your things inside, and how deep you can go even more.

“All the time people underestimate themself – our body, our soul. We can go more deeper than five rounds, 10 rounds – it doesn’t matter.You just have to find this. You just have to be relaxed and find this way you have to go. How you can go deep. It was a very deep fight.”

Nurmagomedov returned to Makhachev’s corner for the first time since he won the lightweight title by defeating Charles Oliveira at UFC 280. After taking time away from the sport to be with his family, Nurmagomedov returned after missing two fights to reunite with Makhachev.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie