Coach Javier Mendez revealed a time when Islam Makhachev got the better of Luke Rockhold in a wrestling session.
In a recent interview with Real Quick with Mike Swick podcast, head coach of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), Mendez confessed that during a wrestling session between a middleweight Rockhold and lightweight Makhachev, the latter had the former middleweight champion airborne for a few seconds.
“I remember when I had Islam go with Luke Rockhold and I told Luke ‘hey, go easy on him, don’t go crazy’ and he goes ‘oh no, I’m not going to’ and so they went at it and they went at it pretty decent but you could tell Luke was not going as super hard and next thing you know, Luke is flying, Luke is thrown and I’m like ‘what the hell did I just watch?’ I said ‘Luke, did he just throw you?’. Luke goes ‘yeah’ and I go ‘did you (let) him?’ and he says ‘no, I didn’t let him but I’ll be ready for him next time,'” said Mendez.
This may come as a surprise to many people due to the fact that Rockhold is a big middleweight fighting at 185 pounds and has fought at 205 pounds in the past. Whereas Makhachev, though known to have a very powerful wrestling base, is a lightweight fighting at 155 pounds. A huge weight discrepancy, yet the Dagestan native was able to pick up Rockhold and throw him down according to Mendez. This goes to show how good Makhachev’s wrestling is, as we’ve come to know, and he may be even better than we may have thought.
Back in July at UFC Vegas 31, Makhachev (20-1) continued his impressive surge in the lightweight division when he submitted #15-ranked lightweight contender Thiago Moises in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke.
It was a dominant victory for the Dagestani native, who mixed up his striking to set up the takedowns and out-grapple the black belt jiujitsu practitioner on the ground to eventually submit the Brazilian. Makhachev has not lost a bout since 2015 and has now won eight consecutive UFC fights. Many believe he is good enough to become UFC lightweight champion in the future.
The 29-year-old is set to face former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 267 on October 30 in what would be the third time they have rescheduled this bout after both fighters had pulled out on previous occasions.
Rockhold is expected to face #8-ranked middleweight Sean Strickland for UFC 268 on November 6 by multiple sources. The former champion has not fought since losing to Jan Blachowicz back in July 2019 but is eager to return to make a triumphant comeback.
Do you think Islam Makhachev can become the UFC lightweight champion?