Michael Bisping Sees UFC 302 Headliner Islam Makhachev As ‘New & Improved’ Version Of Khabib Nurmagomedov

Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping believes Islam Makhachev boasts traits that the great Khabib Nurmagomedov did not.

Having long been touted as a successor to Khabib following his retirement as an undefeated lightweight champion back in 2020, Makhachev completed his ascension to the 155-pound mountaintop in 2022.

And since submitting Charles Oliveira to be crowned champ in Abu Dhabi, the Dagestani has enhanced his legacy and cemented his reign with a pair of successful defenses against now-former featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski. 

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With a victory over Dustin Poirier at UFC 302 this weekend, Makhachev will make it three defenses, tying him for the division’s all-time lead with Khabib and Benson Henderson. 

Such a feat would no doubt only increase the comparisons between “The Eagle” and his title-holding protégé. But not everyone is waiting for Makhachev to surpass his mentor before branding him superior…

Bisping Compares Makhachev & Khabib: ‘Look At The KO Of Volkanovski…’

During the Preview Show for UFC 302 on TNT Sports’ YouTube channel, Bisping assessed Makhachev’s divisional rule to date and the champ’s ever-developing skillset.

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Pointing to the Dagestani’s renowned grappling game and always-improving striking, which he used to finish Volkanovski in one round last October, “The Count” suggested that Makhachev’s overall ability has already cleared that of Khabib.

“Khabib came first and he’ll always be remembered for that, for what he did to the sport, how he represented Dagestan, and implemented that style. It took over the sport, let’s be honest,” Bisping said. “But his time has gone. It has passed… Islam is a new, improved version.

“Look at the head kick knockout of Alexander Volkanovski. He’s much, much smoother on the feet. His grappling’s just as good as Khabib’s, or it’s certainly up there,” Bisping continued. “He’s really moulding into this champion. He feels it. He walks and talks with a certain bravado and assurance that comes not from confidence or ego, it comes from knowing what he’s capable of.”

Makhachev will have the chance to further prove his talent in the main event of Saturday’s numbered event in Newark, where he’s tasked with defeating Poirier — a feat achieved by Khabib via submission back in 2019.

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