What is Islam Makhachev’s Fighting Style? Career Highlights & Stats

The Dagestan mountains have proven to be a reliable source of championship material. Their dominance is felt both in the UFC and other martial arts organizations. Consequently, the UFC lightweight division crowned the new champion in 2022, whose reign could last.


Islam Ramazanovich Makachev was born in 1991 in Makachkala, Dagestan. Makachev was raised in the village of Burshi, where he lived with his father, mother, and older brother. He belongs to the Lak ethnic group, and like each of his compatriots, he practiced combat sambo, in which he excelled both in training and competitions.

He also trained in taekwondo, Sanda, freestyle wrestling, and finally, MMA under the late Abdulmanap Nurmgaomedov. Islam was prone to street fighting, which is not strange for the region in which he is located. Life in Dagestan was not easy for anyone. Still, their focus was on family, training, and religion, ultimately proving a valid recipe for success.

Amateur Career

The amateur careers of the team from Dagestan are numerous with matches, which is the reason for their professional success and dominance over their opponents. Although the exact number is not known, it is known that the three-digit figures are involved. 

Islam twice won the Russian Championship up to 163 pounds. His greatest success and highlight of his amateur career was winning the World Championship in Combat Sambo, which took place in Sofia, where Makachev defeated Bulgarian Valentin Benishev with a score of 7-0. One famous and memorable amateur fight was against Zabit Magomedsharipov in 2013 at the Nazran Combat Sambo Cup final, where Islam celebrated with a victory.

Professional Career

In 13 years of professional MMA competition, Islam achieved a record of 25 victories, of which five were knockouts, 11 submissions, and nine decisions. He competes in the lightweight category, and before making his mark in the UFC, Makachev fought in the Tsumada FC, M-1 Challenge, ProFC, Siberian FC, and Lion’s Fights organizations, where he was unstoppable.

Makachev has only one loss, which was a knockout in 2015 in the UFC at the hands of Adriano Martins. He made his professional debut in 2010 and has not stopped being active since. He fights from the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) under the tutelage of coach Javier Mendez and the late Abdulmanap, and Khabib Nurmagomedov often appears as a coach. On the way to the lightweight title, he collected victories against impressive world names such as Dan Hooker, Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, Bobby King Green, Arman Tsarukyan, Charles Oliveira and twice Alexander Volkanovski.

Fighting Style

Islam Makachev is one of the most complete fighters in the UFC, capable of finishing the fight as he wants, as he has proven in all his matches. His usual game plan is similar to Khabib’s. Still, his skills are much higher, making him a solid threat in the striking and wrestling department.

Islam always fights patiently, relying on pressure and forcing the opponent into a corner where he uses his supreme cage wrestling and control to drag the opponent into deep water and keep him there. There are two ways out for an opponent in an inferior position: surrender by submission or taking punishment from the ground and pound. 

Islam’s arsenal has many weapons for war, superb striking with kicks, fists, and knees, and a dangerous clinch with a great display of many Dagestani takedown techniques such as sweeps, throws, and trips. Islam possesses incredible physical strength and an unrelenting gas tank. 

Makachev is not afraid to get into exchanges of blows, but he doesn’t do it recklessly. Islam finds particular success in striking thanks to the fear of his takedowns, and the opponents standing in front of him cannot always keep their hands high due to the defense against a potential takedown, but not low because of Islam’s dangerous striking.

Dagestani applies his game plan without haste and appears in every subsequent match with improved skills. His hands possess enough power to shut down an opponent in stand-up, and his grappling skills lead him to victory even against world grappler champions. 

Achievements in Martial Arts

In 2022, Islam became the champion of the lightweight division in the UFC and currently has two title defenses. Although it is interesting that in his impeccable career, he has not won a single belt except for the UFC, he won the ProFC Union National Cup in 2011. Makachev is no stranger to Fight and Performance of The Night bonuses.

According to many UFC records, such as most submissions and longest winning streak in the lightweight category, he is tied with fighters such as Ferguson, GSP, Khabib, and Holloway. Considering that he has only just begun to destroy the top competition in the lightweight division as a champion, we can expect many UFC records to be broken by the Dagestani machine in the coming years.

The Most Incredible Win

Among the most impressive victories of the lightweight champion are the last three title fights. In the vacant lightweight title match, Islam defeated Charles Oliveira by submission, the record holder in the UFC for the most submission victories, whom he knocked down and then forced to tap out.

He also recorded two impressive victories against featherweight Alexander Volkanovski, whom he defeated by decision in a 25-minute war. Then, he was knocked out in the first round in the rematch. Islam’s performance was at the highest level in all three matches against opponents who came more than ready to fight.

Daily Training Gear

Islam Makachev uses boxing gloves and a helmet of the WINNING brand, but also the Dagestanis’ favorite BUKA Boxing gloves, which are for the ultimate protection of both sparring partners and Makachev himself. A wise choice of training equipment can also be seen on Islam’s shins, which are protected by the Venum brand of the highest quality. Makachev’s MMA sparring sessions are unthinkable without hybrid Combat Sports gloves with enough padding for safe striking and open palms for quality grappling.

Winning Headgear
  • Medium(Japanese Size): 21.0-23.0inch / 54-59cm
  • Large(Japanese Size): 22.5-24.5 inch / 57-62cm
  • 33% lighter than the old model (from 21oz to 15oz)
Winning Professional Boxing Gloves
  • Manufactered by Winning in Japan with the craft
  • Safe and best quality of Japan
  • Anti Thumbing Style
Venum Elite Shin Guards-White/Camo
  • Multi-density foam with reinforcement on the shin and neck of the foot
  • Two wide elastic bands for support: one under the foot, the other behind the heel
  • Anatomical design: maximum mobility
  • Handmade in Thailand
Combat Sports MMA Safety Sparring Gloves
  • Designed to go from ground work to striking in the same training session without changing gloves
  • Advanced 4-layer foam composite offers the same shock dispersing capabilities as 16oz. boxing gloves
  • All Leather construction with a comfortable tricot liner

Net Worth

Islam Makachev’s net worth has grown by over $4,500.00 in the last year. Much of his earnings are due to his sponsorship contracts with Al Hadaya, Gorilla Energy Drink, and Wahed Invest. Allegedly, in the fights against Oliveira and Volkanovski, he earned $600,000 each, not counting the bonuses he was awarded. He got the biggest money against Alexander Volkanovski in the second match, where he collected almost $1,500,000 paycheck, and judging by his rapid success, expect these numbers to change next year.

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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