Khabib Criticized For His Corner Work – ‘He Goes Crazy, Calm Down’

June 18, 2024
1 month
Khabib Criticized For His Corner Work - 'He Goes Crazy, Calm Down'

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s former coach, Javier Mendez, has told The Eagle to improve his corner work. 

The comments come as Khabib joined Islam Makhachev in the corner for his fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 302. Makhachev defended his belt successfully for a third time to win by a fifth-round submission. Khabib’s knowledge was integral since he had beaten Poirier himself at UFC 242 in 2019 to defend his lightweight title. Islam will get the plaudits for winning, but it was not all plain sailing as Mendez singled out Khabib for improvement. 

Mendez On Khabib

“Khabib’s actually becoming a great coach and a great cornerman – [but] he needs some work on the cornering. He’s great at game planning, he’s fantastic at game planning but we need to work a little bit on the cornering – just a little bit. He needs to master the corner though… We still need to work the corner because he goes a little crazy on there, up and down, slamming on the table – [I told him] ‘Calm down, calm down’. He gets really amped up. I mean he loves his fighters so much [as] his brothers that you know, he puts everything into that fight when he goes, I forgot what it was like to have him in the corner; it’s kind of crazy,” Mendez said 

One of the key aspects is having a good corner man who is someone you can respect. Islam has lots of respect for his countryman, given he chose to bring him into camp. It was arguably one of Islam’s biggest fights. He was fighting against a largely pro-Dustin crowd. There are suggestions that this was Poirier’s last fight as he sought his first world title. Khabib is also known for being a fighter who does not take shortcuts.

Khabib vs. Islam

That desire to win can sometimes cloud the instructions in the corner based on Mendez’s comments. However, there are natural areas where Islam is a better fighter than Khabib. That will influence a game plan, as Khabib would not fight opponents in the same manner. Poirier is known for his striking, with Islam repeatedly stating during the build-up that Dustin is not good at wrestling. He clapped back at Dustin’s comments about him knocking him out, stating this is MMA, not boxing. Unlike Khabib, Islam’s striking is superior, which must be factored into subsequent game plans. 

“In all honesty, right from the get go Khabib was not a great striker. So Islam already came in as a fairly good striker. So he was already ahead of Khabib, he has been ahead of Khabib in the striking department. In the overall department, I don’t know if anyone is ever going to be better than Khabib. As far as technically, from the very beginning Islam was a better striker than Khabib,” Mendez added

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