Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, goes into UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, this weekend (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) a big underdog against Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev. According to the bookies, “Volk” is a +300 underdog, while Islam is a -400 favorite ... pretty wild odds considering Volkanovski’s resume compared to Makhachev’s.
But, Volkanovski has never been the biggest 145-pound athlete, and now he’s fighting at 155 pounds against a huge Lightweight. Indeed, Makhachev cut through former champion, Charles Oliveira, with ease in his last fight (watch it), and is dangerous with or without Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner.
In short, it’s a massive challenge, and everyone on his team acknowledges that — even Volkanovski.
“He’s a tough fight,” Volkanovski said on the first episode of UFC Embedded. “This is definitely a step up in competition, we’re moving up a division. But again, I’m the guy to do it. I just want people to remember the guy — people saying this is a risk and all that type of stuff. Yeah, good. Just remember that I’m the guy taking the risks. So, when I go and get my hand raised, reward me for doing things like this.
“I don’t see like a lot of people do this enough, I think a lot of people should challenge themselves because it’s going to only make you stronger,” he continued. “And that’s why I’m very proud of who I am and what I’m doing and I can’t wait to show all the people out there that if you believe in yourself anything is capable.”
Volkanovski often gets grouped into the City Kickboxing gang where he does some training, but this episode of Embedded brings us back to Volk’s real home: the Freestyle Fighting Gym in Windang, Australia. His head coach, Joe Lopez, opened up on Makhachev and how they’ll deal with the suffocating Dagestani.
“Volk, to his credit, he’s always wanted to challenge himself,” Lopez said. “He could sit there and take on some of the other guys and build a legacy with a lot more featherweight fights. He wants to test himself and move up and all I can do is support him and pat him on the back because not many other guys would want to take this sort of risk, especially against a formidable opponent like Islam.
“He’s a good wrestler, he’s got very unorthodox striking that people don’t give him credit for,” Lopez added. “And we’ve had all different guys come out like Judo guys, Sambo guys, all different wrestling looks. It’s been good.”
Remember that MMAmania.com 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.
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