Newly-crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, will take the non-traditional route to his first title defense and allowcurrent Featherweight king, Alexander Volkanovski, to come up and get first dibs at UFC 284 on Feb. 11, 2023.
For some it’s a courageous move that could cause Makhachev’s stock to skyrocket, while some think it could end up biting the Dagestani in the butt. Among those that don’t think it will bode well for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protege is current Bellator MMA Featherweight king, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
Speaking on the Trocação Franca (via MMA Fighting), Pitbull says while it won’t be easy, he expects Volkanovski to hand Makhachev his first loss and join an highly-exclusive club that only a select few such as himself and Conor McGregor have the privilege to be in.
“I think that’s perfect, he’s doing what I did, what [Conor] McGregor did one day,” Pitbull said on this week’s Trocação Franca podcast. “It’s great. He really has to test himself, really has to move up in weight. He’s not that light and I think he’s fast and very powerful. He’ll [Makhachev] him some trouble. We know Makhachev has the height and reach advantage, but it’s a tough fight for [Makhachev]. We’re going to see a great fight.”
With a record of 23-1, Makhachev has gone a blistering 12-1 inside the Octagon, racking up eight finishes in the process. While his resume is great, Pitbull feels Volkanovski — who is 12-0 inside the Octagon — will be one step faster all night long.
“I think Volkanovski wins. I do. Not because he’s [a featherweight]. I think he’s hard to beat. He’s hard to be controlled, hard to be found on the feet, hard to be submitted, so it’s not someone that will be easily found [by Makhachev] in the cage,” he added.
“He’s faster than Makhachev so he definitely has a good strategy, to keep the fight on the feet,” Pitbull said. “He controls the distance really well. We don’t have a similar style but the strategy he does is similar to mine. He moves well and doesn’t allow people to get close that easily. He touches without getting touched, and that’s very important in a fight. You end up frustrating your opponent, hurting him the entire time.”
Should Volkanovski defeat Makhachev, he will be the latest member of the “champ-champ” club” which sometimes tends to tie up divisions. Volk’s has vowed to be an active champion by defending both belts should he prove victorious.
Pitbull, meanwhile, will look to add to his conquests as he attempts to defeat current RIZIN 145-pound champion, Kelber Koike, in the co-main event of the RIZIN vs Bellator MMA fight card this Saturday (Dec. 31, 2021) in Saitama, Japan.
While there will not be an titles on the line, a win for either man would still be a nice addition to his resume.
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See you then!