Michael Bisping: Islam Makhachev ‘a new, improved version’ of Khabib Nurmagomedov

Michael Bisping sees UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev as version 2.0 of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) will look to tie Nurmagomedov’s record of three lightweight title defenses when he faces Dustin Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 302 (pay-per-view/ESPN2/ESPN+) main event at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Nurmagomedov passed the torch on to his protege after retiring as undefeated lightweight champion in October 2020. Bisping thinks Makhachev is a more well rounded fighter than Nurmagomedov.

“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,” Bisping told TNT Sports. “It took over the sport, let’s be honest. But his time has gone. It has passed, but 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. He’s really molding into this champion. He feels it. He walks and talks with a certain bravado and an assurance that comes not from confidence or ego. It comes from knowing what he’s capable of.”

Makhachev revealed that Nurmagomedov will be in his corner for the first time since UFC 280, where he submitted Charles Oliveira to claim the vacant lightweight title. Nurmagomedov previously stated that he retired from cornering fighters, but appears to have changed his tune.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie