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Ikram Aliskerov: Coach Nurmagomedov Following Father’s Footsteps



Ikram Aliskerov (15-1) claims Khabib Nurmagomedov’s coaching style is similar to that of his father.

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Aliskerov is scheduled to fight Robert Whittaker (25-7) in the UFC on ABC 6 headliner on June 22 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Hailing from Dagestan, Aliskerov often trains with former lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and his protégé Islam Makhachev. Like most other elite fighters from the region, Aliskerov has also had had the privilege of training under Nurmagomedov’s late father, Abdulmanap, who is widely regarded as the pioneer of mixed martial arts in the region.

Aliskerov recently detailed what made Nurmagomedov arguably one of the best coaches in the world. According to Aliskerov, it was Abdulmanap’s emphasis on discipline over talent that set him apart.

“You know the biggest thing about him and I always say this, he put a huge emphasis on discipline,” Aliskerov told Shakiel Mahjouri. “He even had this saying that ‘discipline always beats over class.’ So, it’s more important for him to be disciplined as opposed to super skilful. So, I think that is something that all of us took away from him. And that’s what made him his own.”

Khabib retired from the sport as an undefeated champion after his father’s demise and stepped into coaching for his teammates and cousins. While he had a successful stint, “Eagle” claimed to have stepped away from the sport for good in January 2023, citing the need to spend time with his family. However, the UFC Hall of Famer recently returned to cornering duties for Makhachev’s title defense against Dustin Poirier at UFC 302 earlier this month. Nurmagomedov was seen passionately guiding Makhachev as the latter went toe-to-toe against Poirier before scoring a fifth-round submission win. Nurmagomedov and Makhachev’s longtime coach at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez, opined that “Eagle” needs to turn it down a notch while coaching.

However, Aliskerov believes Nurmagomedov’s tough coaching regimen is the result of him following in the footsteps of his father. According to Aliskerov, Nurmagomedov, like his father, puts a huge emphasis on discipline, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

“Khabib is going down the same path, he is all about discipline as well,” The 31-year-old said. “He also makes everybody else do the amount of work that he had to do or he has to do still. So, not everybody can really compete or hold on to that same level of work that Khabib makes you do.”

While Makhachev currently sits atop the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Dana White has hailed Jon Jones as his P4P king over the Dagestani. But Aliskerov disagrees without a strand of doubt. According to Aliskerov, Makhachev’s recent activity trumps that of “Bones,” who has fought only once since 2020.

“Of course it’s Islam, there’s no question about it,” Aliskerov said. “I mean look at how many fights he has had in recent history. He’s constantly staying active. Obviously, Jon Jones is a legendary fighter, you got to give credit where credit is due. But just with the amount of work and the amount of activity that Islam has, I don’t think there’s anybody that can compete with his status.”

Aliskerov started his UFC journey with consecutive first-round finishes and hasn’t lost since his lone pro defeat against Khamzat Chimaev at Brave CF in 2019. Aliskerov stepped up on nine days’ notice to replace a sick Chimaev against Whittaker at UFC Saudi Arabia.
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