Monday, December 5, 2022

Sonnen On Volkanovski/Islam: ‘Which Is Wrong, P4P Or Odds?’

Former UFC star Chael Sonnen has pointed out what he perceives to be a contradiction following the release of opening odds for Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski.

After the conclusion of the UFC 280 pay-per-view, a champion vs. champion superfight appeared to form.

While that was always likely to be the case given positive comments from Dana White and featherweight titleholder Volkanovski’s decision to serve as the backup fighter for the main event, the question remained โ€” who would the Aussie look to challenge for the 155-pound gold?

In the Abu Dhabi-held headliner, Makhachev answered that query emphatically with a dominant display against former champion Charles Oliveira, submitting the Brazilian via arm-triangle choke in round two.

With that, the plan for the newly crowned lightweight chief to defend the belt in Australia was laid out, and he even stood face-to-face with his expected first challenger inside the Octagon.

So, despite the best efforts of top-five contender Beneil Dariush, it appears that the first test for Makhachev’s reign will come from below. But in the context of the Dagestani’s pursuit of top spot on the pound-for-pound ladder, he’ll actually be fighting up.

After Kamaru Usman lost his grip of the welterweight title courtesy of as brutal head kick delivered by Leon Edwards, Volkanovski was ascended to the top of the P4P mountain. Not far below him now is Makhachev, who entered the rankings at #3 following his title triumph.

But despite sitting below Volkanovski in that regard, Makhachev finds himself heavily favored in the early odds for his expected clash with the Australian. Per DraftKings, Makhachev opened as a sizable -400 favorite, with Volkanovski branded a +300 underdog.

According to one former UFC title challenger, there’s an obvious contradiction between the odds and the P4P standings.

Sonnen Highlights Contradiction In Volkanovski/Islam Pairing

During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen highlighted the issues he has with the UFC’s ranking system, citing Volkanovski and Makhachev as evidence.

According to “The American Gangster,” the lightweight champion can’t be below Volkanovski in the P4P rankings, and yet significantly favored to beat him by the oddsmakers. And with that appearing as the current situation, Sonnen noted that somebody must wrong.

“You guys know that I have a big problem with the rankings,” Sonnen said. “Islam’s now ranked number three in the world (pound-for-pound). Islam appears to be drawing in to Volkanovski. Now, I love that match… Islam is now ranked number three pound-for-pound, Volk is ranked number one. But the oddsmakers say that Islam is a three-and-a-quarter favorite right this second at DraftKings to beat Volkanovski. How did we get there?

“Those things can’t both be true. How is Volk number one in the world pound-for-pound, Islam’s number three, but Islam’s favored to beat Volk? How did we get there? They can’t both be true,” Sonnen continued. “So are the oddsmakers wrong or are the people in the rankings room wrong?”

Sonnen went on to point out the different consequences that come with making the “wrong” call for both parties. While oddsmakers suffer financially, those in charge of the UFC rankings simply alter the error post-fight by publishing a new order.

“What happens if these two fight and Islam wins? The oddsmakers are gonna pay up. The guy in the rankings room is gonna adjust, but nothing happens to him,” Sonnen pointed out. “The oddsmakers lose a bunch of money. Nothing happens to this guy, he just takes an eraser and flips the names. Which one is it? Is Volk better or is Islam better?”

Despite being unbeaten in the UFC and riding a 22-fight win streak in professional MMA, it appears that Volkanovski’s underdog status fits with public consensus.

In a recent poll conducted on Twitter by MMA reporter Chamatkar Sandhu, 66% of just under 10,000 fans backed Makhachev to retain his title.

Volkanovski will look to prove the oddsmakers wrong and the rankings panel right when he challenges for champ-champ status.

By all accounts, he’ll finally get his lightweight wish at UFC 284 next February, where he looks set to have the chance to add a second title to his mantle in front of a home crowd in Australia.

What do you make of Chael Sonnen’s assessment?

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