Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protege will be back in action next week. Saygid Izagakhmaev is booked to take on Shinya Aoki at ONE 163 and the undefeated former UFC lightweight champion has a lot of faith in his student.

During his prime he was the best fighter on the planet. But these days Nurmagomedov has a burgeoning reputation as a coach and recently saw his student Islam Makhachev become the UFC lightweight champion.

Izagakhmaev has his sights set on the ONE Championship lightweight title and Nurmagomedov is very excited about the 28 year old’s potential,

“I’ve been training with Saygid my whole life. I know how much he improves every year. I know how dedicated he is. He’s getting physically stronger and stronger. He’s getting more and more experienced from fight to fight and soon, he’s going to be the best – not only in our team, but in the world. I have a lot of faith in him.”

Surprise skills

Being the best in Nurmagomedov’s team is no mean achievement. He can be found cornering fighters like Zubaira Tukhugov, Tagir Ulanbekov, Islam Mamedov, Gadzhi Rabadanov, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, Umar Nurmagomedov and Usman Nurmagomedov as well as Makhachev.

Anyone who trains with Nurmagomedov is expected to be a good wrestler. But the former UFC lightweight champion says that there is much more to Izagakhmaev’s game than takedowns,

“The audience expects him to have a good wrestling skill set but he can surprise them with how good he is on his feet. He has very good elbows and good hands. So far, he hasn’t had a chance to show these skills, to demonstrate his long arms, his striking.”

Too good

Nurmagomedov says we simply haven’t seen much of Izagakhmaev’s striking yet because his wrestling is so good he hasn’t needed to use it,

“Nobody has been able to stop him yet. But the moment we get an opponent who can handle his wrestling and then force Saygid to utilize his striking, the audience will be surprised.”

Aoki is the two time ONE Championship lightweight title holder and one of the most successful submission artists in the history of the sport. With Izagakhmaev currently ranked #4 his coach believes that one more win would be enough to earn a title shot,

“There’s a very good chance that early next year Saygid will fight for the title because he already has two wins in the promotion and he has a fight ahead of him against a very big star in world of MMA, Shinya Aoki. If Saygid knocks him out or finishes him on the ground, I think he should have his next fight for the title.”