Alexander Volkanovski may be one of the very best mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the world today, but the reigning UFC featherweight champion will be a betting underdog in his upcoming superfight with current lightweight king Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 this February.
Despite posting an undefeated 12-0 record since his UFC debut back in 2016 many people are counting Volkanovski out in his matchup with Makhachev. That’s because Makhachev looks to be the second coming of Khabib Nurmagomedov, is riding an 11-fight win streak dating back to 2015, and is coming off a dominant submission finish over Charles Oliveira this past October. At this point, Makhachev would be a heavy betting favorite no matter who he faces, including Volkanovski.
Luckily, Volkanovski does not seem too bothered by the pre-fight betting odds or anyone suggesting he’ll be outmatched against Makhachev. Instead, the featherweight champion is doubling down on his ability to weather any storm thrown his way — specifically Makhachev’s world-class wrestling — as he tries to become the newest UFC double champ.
“A lot of people just prevent getting there [on the ground],” Volkanovski said on the Believe You Me podcast. “I’m like, if the fight doesn’t go there, that’s a bonus, but I need to be prepared and ready for if it does go there because there’s a good chance. There’s a good chance he might get the takedown, he might get a nice trip, whatever it is. I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t, I’m working everything right now. But if it does, I guarantee you this; I’m gonna be composed, I’m gonna be calm and I’m gonna be fighting my ass off to get back to my feet and I will not panic. You won’t see me lose composure, nothing like that because the amount of hours I’m doing, that’s why I’m so calm. Preparation is everything, it’s just that a lot of people don’t prepare how they should.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Ah, I won’t get there.’ But what if you do? Be ready. Except for me. We know what he wants to do. So, even if he does get me there, I’m gonna be more than prepared, more than ready.”
Volkanovski, who has competed as high as welterweight early on in his professional MMA career, has had to listen to the naysayers since his clash with Makhachev was announced. It has only fueled “Great” to prove he’s good enough to end Makhachev’s lightweight takeover and capture the undisputed 155-pound belt.
“As soon as it was Islam and people telling me that — you know, I love people doubting me — saying, ‘Ah, yeah, he’s gonna be too big, too strong,’ and all this,” Volkanovski said. “This challenge, the opponent that I’ve got, that excites me more.
“I think going for this champ-champ and taking out someone like Islam is really what people are going to sort of remember. Again, a lot of people think he’s unstoppable right now, but I’m gonna show you that he is stoppable. I can’t wait to go out there and do my thing.”
Makhachev, who is 23-1 in his professional MMA career, is confident he’ll be able to outpace and outwrestle Volkanovski like he has every other opponent he’s faced. After learning of Volkanovski’s recent comments about their upcoming matchup the UFC lightweight king chimed in to assure his fans that his gameplan will continue to work.
after first 15 helpless seconds on the ground, I guarantee you will panic https://t.co/zLsO4v3OE5— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) December 23, 2022
“After first 15 helpless seconds on the ground, I guarantee you will panic.”
What say you, fight fans? If Makhachev takes Volkanovski down will he be able to get back up?