UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev isn’t concerned about Khabib Nurmagomedov missing from his corner, because it’s not the first time.
Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) mentor, announced that his role traveling and cornering fighters will be significantly reduced this year. “The Eagle” won’t be in Makhachev’s corner for his title defense against featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) on Feb. 11 at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia.
“I understand him, because he was retired, but he still traveled a lot with the whole team,” Makhachev told Fox Sports Australia. “And when somebody has a fight, he goes to the training camp, went to the other things. And when you retire, you want to spend time with your family. For example, 2022 he spent just two months at home with his family, but all the other time he traveled a lot. That’s why he wants to spend more time with his family.”
Makhachev said Nurmagomedov still had a big involvement in his preparation for the Volkanovski fight.
“I fought a couple of times without him in my corner,” Makhachev said. “He gave me good support for this fight. We talked about this fight. He gave me the plan. I have to fight, that’s why we will see.”
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Makhachev’s first title defense is coming against a featherweight, but it also happens to be against the UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in Volkanovski, which he thinks will help build his legacy.
“Every fighter wants to be pound-for-pound (No. 1), not just champion,” Makhachev said. “I am champion right now, but I have new goal, new target. I want to be pound-for-pound king, because this is, I think, a dream for all fighters. When you’re pound-for-pound world champion, this means a lot.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 284.
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