Javier Mendez expects another Nurmagomedov to become champion.
Khabib Nurmagomedov recently retired following his lightweight title defense in October and despite UFC president Dana White’s best efforts, it looks like it will remain that way.
However, American Kickboxing Academy head coach Mendez believes “The Eagle’s” cousin in Umar Nurmagomedov could very well be the next UFC champion within two years in the bantamweight division.
“I’ve been saying it, in five or six fights, I expect him to be fighting for a title, and I believe we’re seeing a new champion, 100 percent,” Mendez told MMA Junkie. “He still has some improvements to make, but he’s going to make them. And yeah, you will be seeing him with the strap in five or six fights from now.”
The younger Nurmagomedov signed with the UFC in early 2020 but only made his highly-anticipated debut last month due to a number of reasons including the COVID-19 pandemic.
He comfortably defeated Sergey Morozov via second-round submission to enjoy a successful UFC debut.
“It was really nice to finally see him get this opportunity after so many things have happened,” Mendez added. “It was nice for him to do it as the same date as Khabib – Jan. 20 is the same date Khabib entered (the UFC), and the choke was the same as Khabib’s choke, so all those combined, it was an incredible experience.
“He came in not a Khabib prodigy, he came in as Umar. He’s just himself, and he showed what great talent he has and diversity in different techniques. But father’s plan is still best plan for Team Eagle, and he showed that, too. He also showed these guys can strike, too.”
Perhaps we could see him collide with fellow Russian and current bantamweight champion Petr Yan in a few years?
What do you think of Nurmagomedov’s potential?