UFC 187 Newcomer Breakdown: Islam Makhachev

Islam-MakhachevPrior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev as he makes his UFC debut against American Top Team’s Leo Kuntz at UFC 187 in Las Vegas, Nevada Islam Makhachev Hometown: Dagestan, Russia Age: 23 Height: 5’10” Reach: N/A Weight Class: Lightweight Camp: Fightspirit Team Career Record: 11-0 Key Wins: Mansour Barnaoui Key Losses: None Background The latest fighter from the MMA hotbed of Dagestan to be signed by the UFC, Islam Makhachev is a world champion in combat sambo. The undefeated fighter is very similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov and is a personal friend and occasional training partner. Strengths

  • Strong, sambo trained fighter
  • Relentless wrestling approach
  • Constantly looking for takedowns
  • Shows a lot of variability in his takedown attempts
  • Willingness to work in singles, doubles, trips, etc
  • Good ability to advance positions in top control
  • Effective scrambler
  • Good conditioning


  • Striking technique needs improvement
  • If forced into a stand up exchange, he could struggle
  • Needs to improve control on the ground


  Matchup with Leo Kuntz In a matchup with two debuting fighters, it can sometimes be difficult what to expect. In this match however, expect to see one way traffic. Kuntz coms from American Top Team appearing to have decent hands and a varied grappling approach. He does well when he’s able to bully his opponent and control the grappling. Unfortunately this will be a nightmare matchup for him. Makhachev is the better technical striker and is levels above Kuntz in the grappling department. Look for the Dagestani fighter to control this fight from the start as his relentless grappling approach wears the American down. Look for Makhachev to either win by late stoppage or dominant decision. UFC Ceiling There is no question that Islam Makhachev is one of the best prospects in the UFC. His combat sambo pedigree combined with the dominant nature of his fights, makes him a fighter to watch moving forward. The comparisons with Khabib Nurmagomedov are realistic. Makhachev is under the tutelage of the elder Nurmagomedov and “The Eagle” is in the corner for all his fights. While Makhachev isn’t as physically as dominant a grappler as Nurmagomedov, the drop off isn’t far off. Furthermore, he has better striking technique than his tutor. The ceiling is high for Makhachev with him being a top 15 fighter in the division pretty quickly. In order to advance beyond that, he will need to improve his top control holding positions. His chin is also rather untested. In a division with such dynamic strikers he will need to show he can handle the power that the top fighters possess.   Fight Film Check out Islam Makhachev in some of his recent fights: Islam Makhachev vs. Mansour Barnaoui   Islam Makhachev vs. Yuri Ivlev

Written by Jay Primetown

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