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Islam Makhachev will have Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner for the first time as champion. The UFC lightweight titleholder announced that his childhood friend, teammate and mentor is among the coaching staff present for his title defense at UFC 302.

"Eagle is landed in Jersey City," Makhachev said in a video on the UFC's Instagram page ahead of his title defense against Dustin Poirier in Newark. "He's going to be in my corner. Honestly, I'm very happy because he's one of the best corner, coach, brother, friend."

Nurmagomedov brings a wealth of experience to Mahachev's corner this weekend. Makhachev helped Nurmagomedov prepare for the latter's UFC lightweight title defense against Poirier in September 2019. Nurmagomedov won the fight via third-round submission.

Nurmagomedov has not cornered Makhachev since he defeated Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title on Oct. 22, 2022. Nurmagomedov retired on Oct. 24 2020 with an undefeated 29-0 record before transitioning to a coaching role. Nurmagomedov took a clean break from mixed martial in January 2023, which is why he was absent for Makhachev's two title defenses against Alexander Volkanovski. 

People draw many similarities between Makhachev and Nurmagomedov from their gameplan to their sheer dominance. If Makhachev beats Poirier on Saturday, he joins Nurmagomedov in tying BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson for most lightweight title defenses at three.