Islam Makhachev Reminisces About Sharing Mouthpiece with Teammates Initially

Oh, the journey of Islam Makhachev to the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound list is nothing short of a gritty novel. Born and bred in Makhachkala, Dagestan, he’s a testament to the region’s fighting spirit. Dagestan, you see, isn’t just any place. It’s a cradle of champions, where kids grow up dreaming of UFC gold.

The local passion for combat sports isn’t new. But, boy, did it catch fire when Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s teammate, clinched the UFC championship in 2018. Khabib’s dad, Abdulmanap, was a true MMA visionary in Russia. His legacy? A slew of champions, including his son and Makhachev.

Training conditions? Far from ideal. Abdulmanap turned the rugged Dagestani landscape into a forge for world-class fighters, often without the luxury of top-notch facilities. Makhachev’s early days under Abdulmanap’s wing were tough. He once shared a mouthpiece with up to 10 teammates during competitions. They’d rinse it with hot water, not so much for cleanliness but to reshape it for the next fighter’s turn.

“Before we don’t have a mouthpiece,” Makhachev recounted on “The Weighing In” Podcast. “We go to some competition, and we can use one mouthpiece. I swear to God, I remember, one competition we have one mouthpiece for like 10 people. In the rules, you cannot go inside the fight without the mouthpiece. We clean with hot water and everybody [use]… We put hot water because it’s [the shape] different you know, change it a little bit.”

Fast forward, and Khabib exits the sport in 2020, undefeated as the UFC lightweight champ, following his father’s passing. Makhachev steps up, sticking to the game plan laid out by Abdulmanap. He snatches the title from Charles Oliveira in 2022 and defends it twice, including against former featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.

Next up? Makhachev is set to defend his title against Dustin Poirier (30-8) at UFC 302 on June 1 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. It’s a bout not to be missed, promising all the thrill MMA fans live for.

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