UFC Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, has yet to meet his match on the ground.
To win 155-pound gold, Makhachev overcame the promotion’s all-time greatest submission threat, Charles Oliveira. If anyone was getting submitted in the highly-anticipated match up, fans expected it to be Makhachev; however, the Dagestani was the one scoring the second round arm-triangle choke to win (watch highlights).
Amongst the absolute best submission artists on the planet is Australia’s Craig Jones, who holds numerous world titles in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is known for his famous ankle lock and heel hook submissions. Jones has also been working with Makhachev’s first title challenger, UFC Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, and is honest about just how good the Sambo specialist is on the mat.
“I honestly agree when Makhachev says a lot of people deserve to have their black belts taken away,” Jones said (h/t @Sa_Gwang on Twitter). “I kind of agree with that. I think what those guys are doing is sort of superior to what we’ve been doing for a long time. Cause we build an entire sport around conceding bottom position.
“I’m not one of those guys that says we should grapple with people who are striking us, but I believe we should grapple as if the top guy knows how to pass and pin,” he added. “A lot of guys don’t mind being on bottom because they’ve never rolled with a guy that knows how to pass guard or pin someone. So, they don’t know how fatiguing and horrible it is.”
Volkanovski hasn’t been known for an incredible submission game throughout his impressive career, but he’s survived some scares and had success with good wrestling of his own. Jones notes that he’s working on getting better when dealing with smothering opponents when in space, highlighting Volkanovski already being pretty good at getting up against the fence.
In all likelihood, the 145-pound kingpin will be on his back at least once when colliding with Makhachev at UFC 284 on Feb. 11, 2023, in Perth, Australia.
“Everyone thinks they’re good at guard until they come across a guy that really can pass well,” Jones said. “And then suddenly they think, ‘S—t. I’d rather be standing, I’d rather be on top.’ But they don’t know to get there and if they do they don’t know how to hold someone down.
“I think Makhachev’s grappling is superior to what a lot of the traditional jiu-jitsu guys do,” he continued. “Cause they don’t know how to hold someone down. They have no idea how to do it. So, we really gotta reverse engineer what Makhachev’s doing, which I’ve been trying to do on top, and then I’m trying to teach these guys how to do it so I can practice doing it on bottom.”