At UFC 280, Makhachev added an 11th victory to his active win streak with his biggest success to date — a second-round submission against Charles Oliveira that ensured he left Abu Dhabi as the newly crowned lightweight titleholder.
After celebrating his triumph, Makhachev’s thoughts were quickly directed to the likely first challenge to his reign, with coach Khabib Nurmagomedov laying out his plans to travel to Australia early next year to defend against Volkanovski.
Having stood face to face with the Russian inside the Octagon, it appears all but confirmed that the featherweight king will have his chance to secure champ-champ status in front of a home crowd in 2023.
But according to the 155-pound titleholder’s camp, as well as many fans and pundits, there’s little chance of that happening. That widely held view is reflected in the opening odds, which had Volkanovski sitting as a +300 underdog and Makhachev as a -400 favorite, per BetOnline.ag.
Those doubts have been firmly shared by Makhachev himself, who has largely dismissed Volkanovski’s threat owing to the featherweight’s size.
Having heard those remarks, though, “The Great” is more than excited to prove the lightweight king wrong.
Volkanovski: I Can’t Wait To Put My Puzzle In Front Of Makhachev
During an appearance on Submission Radio, Volkanovski reflected on Makhachev’s dominance at UFC 280, where he became the first man to defeat “Do Bronx” since 2017.
Having identified Oliveira’s decision to stand directly in front of Makhachev, Volkanovski insisted that Makhachev is in for a rude awakening if he’s expecting the same gifts in their matchup, which is expected to take place at UFC 284 next February.
“I ain’t gonna just be standing in front of you. You’re gonna be trying to figure out a puzzle in front of you,” Volkanovski said. “The movement’s gonna be difficult. You’re gonna try to grab a leg, but again, you need to be in the right position to feel comfortable to shoot, and he won’t feel that straight away.
“Then, he’s gonna feel a little desperate to try to grab the legs. This is stuff he hasn’t had to deal with. There’s no way (he’s faced people) with calculated footwork like I have,” Volkanovski added. “I can’t wait to put that puzzle in front of him, make him pay, get him uncomfortable.”
Volkanovski went on to further react to Makhachev’s remarks about his height. While the Russian has labeled it a disadvantage, the featherweight champ believes his short and stocky build will help him avoid takedowns and control.
“Him calling me short, I don’t think he realizes that helps me in a situation with someone like him,” Volkanovski suggested. “Let’s be real, the size advantage, having that weight, is gonna be a big factor. But me having this small stature, this stocky build — especially knowing how hard I am to hold down — is gonna help me.
“Me being a short stocky fella, I’m very hard to hold down… I (always) know I’m gonna get back up, I don’t (usually) have to worry about that,” Volkanovski continued. “Now, I’m gonna be focusing on that… Trust me, I’m gonna be very, very, very hard to hold down.”
With that in mind, Volkanovski is certainly confident of his ability to avoid the same fate as Makhachev’s past victims.
And the Aussie is anticipating seeing the lightweight throne-sitter realize that early into their champion vs. champion showdown.
“I’m looking forward to seeing his face when he realizes, even in a half-decent position, the control he’s usually able to have… the struggle he’s gonna have with me,” Volkanovski stated. “I can’t wait to see his face. I love seeing people’s face when I’m in front of them.
“Everyone thinks I’m small and everything thinks they’ve got me figured out… Give me 10 seconds in front of them, not even, I can look at their face and already see them puzzled. I see them uncomfortable in seconds. I can’t wait to see that in his face. ‘Why are you panic shooting?’ I can’t wait to feel that and see that,” Volkanovski concluded.
How do you think Alexander Volkanovski will fare against Islam Makhachev?
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