We can’t watch Khabib Nurmagomedov fight any more. The undefeated UFC lightweight champion is retired but if you want to see a fighter with a similar style then he recommends you check out Saygid Izagakhmaev.

The Russian makes his ONE Championship debut this weekend and Nurmagomedov will be at his side in Singapore. The man who beat Conor McGregor says they both come from a very similar background,

“He began training with my father when he was very young, and I know him very, very well. He was always focused and a very hard trainer,” he said.

As a result Nurmagomedov says Izagakhmaev’s style is very similar to his,

“We have a similar fighting style, like grappling, wrestling, clinching, how we move, how we use our body and our hips on the ground, but he’s a little bit taller than me.”

Training hard

According to Nurmagomedov his protege has been training hard ahead of his lightweight bout with James Nakashima at ONE: ‘Heavy Hitters’ this Friday,

“We’re all waiting for his debut. I know Saygid has stayed in the gym every day and night, and he’s excited about his debut in ONE Championship,” he said.

He thinks that Izagakhmaev’s mentality is the one thing that sets him apart from other lightweights,

“He’s very hungry. That is very important in this game. You have to be hungry. There are a lot of reasons why Saygid is a very dangerous opponent.”

But ‘The Eagle’ says Izagakhmaev also has the style to cause anyone in the division issues,

“Saygid’s style is very dangerous because he’s tall. He has a long reach with his legs and arms. He has very good elbows, good clinch, and, of course, a very good on-ground game – like all of the guys from our school.”

Constantly learning

Nurmagomedov was 29 when he won the UFC lightweight title. He believes Izagakhmaev has time on his side and continues to improve,

“When I watch how he was one year ago, right now, he’s completely different. He’s only 27 years old, and he keeps learning,” he said.

Nurmagomedov is currently in Singapore and is excited to see how his fighter progresses in his new home,

“I truly believe, with ONE Championship, he’s going to improve a lot, and the next couple of years are going to be very interesting for him.”

Good energy

Nurmagomedov also believes it is important for Izagakhmaev to have him in his corner,

“I think this is good for him because I have so much knowledge that I can share with him. I can give him good energy. I can motivate him.”

But he refused to run the rule over the other lightweights or assess Izagakhmaev’s title prospects. The former UFC lightweight king does not want his fighter looking past the considerable challenge posed by Nakashima,

“We don’t underestimate Nakashima and talk about what’s next for him. Let’s finish with him, and then we can talk.”