It’s always a good thing when your talent is compared to “His Airness” Michael Jordan, and Islam Makhachev says he earned such an honor in past AKA sparring sessions with Luke Rockhold.
#5-ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev is currently the owner of an eight-fight winning streak with performances that have many people believing he has the makings of a future world champion. If this were to be uttered to anyone at AKA, it would be a case of preaching to the choir.
Those at AKA have consistently praised Makhachev’s skill level publicly. And according to a recent story from the man himself, one particular teammate has also heaped some heavy praise onto him behind closed doors.
Islam Makhachev Claims He Ragdolled Luke Rockhold During Sparring
According to Makhachev, there was one specific incident where a teammate begrudgingly complimented him on his abilities after being thrown repeatedly by the Russian. And wouldn’t you know it, that man is none other than UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold.
“When [Rockhold] was preparing for the Machida fight, Machida was a southpaw. So I appeared to be the only southpaw in the gym at that moment. Luke is big compared to myself, but Javier [Mendez] asked me, ‘Islam, please have a couple of rounds with him. We need a southpaw.’ I always agreed,” Makhachev’s tale began in an interview with RT Sport.
“So we sparred a lot of times, and I don’t remember a single case where I failed to do a judo double-leg takedown on him. It was more than once or two, five, or ten times. Much more.”
Eventually, Rockhold had enough and was determined to put a stop to his embarrassment, but it only got worse.
“So he comes in for another sparring, gives me small gloves and says, ‘Today, you won’t throw me!’ So the sparring starts and I throw him again…” Makhachev continued with a smile. “And he is in the air, truly upset and already shouting loud. I don’t know. He has such long legs so maybe that’s why I always did it so easily.”
With reports of Khabib Nurmagomedov considering a crossover to soccer, we have made the comparison to Khabib & Michael Jordan: two men who retired at the top of their sport only to dabble in another. We classified Khabib’s soccer interest as going “full Michael Jordan.” But if you ask “Air Rockhold,” the Jordan comparison is more apt for Khabib’s successor, Islam Makhachev.
“Yes, he was really angry, and always very focused on our sparring, like, ‘You’re not going to do that today!’” Makhachev continued. “And then he said, ‘You are like Jordan in basketball in terms of those throws.’”
Are you surprised to hear this tale of UFC lightweight Islam Makhachev repeatedly throwing former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold around?