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Volkanovski doesn’t buy Makhachev’s knockout talk: ‘He’s going to be forced to fight on the feet’

Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev had a lot to say to each other during UFC 284’s pre-fight press conference.

UFC 284 Press Conference Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC 284 goes down in Perth, Australia, on Sunday morning, which translates to the usual Saturday night time (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) for those of us in North America. At the top of the pay-per-view (PPV) card is a stunning bout between the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev.

At UFC 284’s pre-fight press conference (watch it), Volkanovski and Makhachev kept things relatively respectful as they were asked questions by members of the press, even when those members tried to stir up some trouble. The first question asked referenced a quote from Alex about, “smacking the smirk’ off Islam’s face.”

“I don’t know what he’s coming to fight, are we going to punch each other in the face or?” Volkanovski said. “You said you wanted to knock me out, that’s what smackin’ in the face means. Obviously, I’m going in the Octagon to smack him in the face. I’m sure he wants to do the same. Or, he wants to wrestle, I don’t know.”

Asked if he felt Volkanovski was keeping that same “smack” energy now that they were sitting next to each other, Makhachev laughed.

“I don’t know, out here a little bit different,” he said. “He have to keep this energy for sure. We’re very close.”

As for fighting in enemy territory in front of thousands of pro-Volkanovski Australians, Makhachev was unbothered.

“It doesn’t matter. When cage is closed, the people just gonna watch,” he said. “But you gonna upset, guys. Sorry, sorry!”

“It’s incredible, it’s absolutely stacked in here and it’s just the press conference,” Volkanovski added. “Some of the best fans in the world are here in Australia, and we’re going to put on a show. They’re gonna definitely be giving me a lot of energy in there and champ champ, baby. Let’s go!”

LIVE! Watch UFC 286 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to The O2 in London England, on Sat., March 18, 2023, with newly-minted Welterweight kingpin, Leon Edwards, running it back with former 170-pound champion, Kamaru Usman, for a third (and likely final) time. In UFC 286’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, all-action Lightweight knockout artists, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, will lock horns with the winner inching closer to a future Lightweight title shot.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Makhachev made it clear that Volkanovski had no chance in the cage, even with top Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, Craig Jones, helping him prepare for Islam’s ground game.

“It’s not possible because I’m the champion and we fight 155,” he said. “This is not his area, this other power, other division. I’m gonna beat him. Easy ... He bring some guys from the jiu-jitsu, but this is not the same. This is not going to be jiu-jitsu, this is gonna be MMA pressure on the ground. He feels that Craig Jones cannot control him on the ground, but this is a different.”

“We studied him,” Volkanovski countered. “Obviously, again, you gotta respect your opponent to really know what they’re good at. Supposedly, he doesn’t really respect me as an opponent, he’s thinking I’m going to be easy. Hopefully, he did his research like we did, because you need to with fights like this. This is two of the best going at it, and I want to prove I’m the best and I’m going to show yous why I deserve that number one pound-for-pound.”

Asked if he respected Volkanovski, Makhachev replied, “Of course I respect him, he’s pound-for-pound number one. Many say, ‘Islam is the best fighter in the world right now.’ And tomorrow, Sunday morning, I’m going to show you why the people claim this.”

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on whether Makhachev would “stand and bang” with Volkanovski, and Islam continued to feed that idea during UFC 284’s pre-fight press conference.

“This is my goal because Alex is a great striker,” he said. “I want to knock him out there and take his place, pound-for-pound, to be pound-for-pound king.”

For his part, Volkanovski doesn’t really believe the talk.

“Look, man. He’s an incredible fighter and he’s done so well because he’s very calculated,” Volkanovski said. “As he said, he’s an MMA fighter, he doesn’t take unnecessary risks. We know where he’s strong, we know where he wants to take it, and I know where I want to keep it. I believe he will look for the takedown, but that ain’t gonna be easy so he’s gonna be forced to fight on the feet as well.”

One reporter suggested that a Volkanovski win over Makhachev could be considered the greatest moment in Australian sporting history.

“It’s not up to me to say where it stands [in Australian sports history],” Volkanovski replied with a bit smile. “But, this is a big fight. I told everyone from the start: it is a challenge, I am moving up. It’s a narrative he’s pushing that there’s no wrestling in Australia, that I won’t be able to handle the power and all that type of stuff. I am the underdog, but hey ... I love people doubting me, I love proving them wrong all the time, and I plan on doing that Sunday.

“Champ-champ, and more respect to Islam, to take the belt off him is an incredible feat, so I hope people realize what I’m trying to do,” Volkanovski concluded. “And when I do it ... I can’t wait!”

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 284 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 284: “Islam vs. Volkanovski” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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