Michael Chandler disagrees with people thinking Islam Makhachev is exactly the same as his mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Makhachev is a longtime teammate of Nurmagomedov and has a very grinding style which not many people can deal with. Yet, for Chandler, he doesn’t think the mystique is the same which is why he doesn’t view Makhachev like Nurmagomedov.
“No, not even close,” Chandler said at UFC 268 media day. “Are they similar? Absolutely. Are they brothers and teammates? Yes, absolutely. I mean, what Khabib has accomplished, it wasn’t Khabib’s skillset, it was the mystique that surrounded Khabib’s accomplishments inside the sport – undefeated and making every superhuman guy in the division look like a mere mortal. So, I wouldn’t say he’s the next best thing whatsoever.”
Although Chandler doesn’t think Makhachev is like Nurmagomedov, he does respect his skills and knows he’s an elite fighter. Yet, he hasn’t been beating top-10 guys for years as Nurmagomedov did.
“I do think he’s very good,” Chandler said. “Obviously the way that he dispatched Dan Hooker in the first round solidifies himself as a top guy. But when you start comparing those two, he’s just not there yet. This is his first time beating a guy in the top 10, and Khabib did it for however many years before that.”
Despite the fact Michael Chandler doesn’t think Islam Makhachev is like Nurmagomedov, he could very well be fighting for UFC gold in his next fight. The two men also could be on a collision course for one another and could meet inside the Octagon next year.
Chandler is set to return to the Octagon at UFC 268 on Saturday as he takes on Justin Gaethje. It promises to be an all-action fight as both men look to get back into the win column after losing title fights last time out.