John McCarthy believes Islam Makhachev‘s ground game is levels above Alexander Volkanovski.
Following his fourth successful title defense, the UFC Featherweight Champion has sought a new challenge at lightweight. Volkanovski attempts to become a two-division champion as he meets defending king Makhachev in the main event of UFC 284.
‘There Is A Huge Difference’
In the preparation for their fight, Volkanovski’s been adjusting to the new weight and has been focusing heavily on his takedown defense and strength. Despite Volkanovski improving on his already world-class skills, John McCarthy doesn’t think it will make much of a difference when pitted against the mauling machine that is Islam Makhachev.
“I love Alexander Volkanovski. I think he’s a tremendous fighter,” McCarthy said on the Weighing In Podcast. “Everyone’s gonna talk about all the things that he’s been saying about the people that he’s training with and they can’t take him down. And he’s so much stronger now and all these things and I’m not saying he’s not stronger, but what percentage of stronger are you? It can’t be that much. It’s not enough to make up the difference because there is a huge difference when it comes to the grappling of both of these guys.”
Volkanovski ‘Good, But Not Great’ In Grappling Areas
To McCarthy, Alexander ‘The Great’ isn’t as great as everyone thinks he is— at least not in the grappling department.
“I’m taking nothing away from Alexander,” McCarthy added. “He’s good, but he’s not great in those areas where Islam is great in those areas. When you have someone like Islam who physically is bigger, he is physically stronger, no matter what anyone wants to say about, ‘oh, Volkanovski has gotten stronger and bigger’ and all that stuff. Putting on that 10 pounds is not gonna change that. It just doesn’t happen that way.”
Don’t get it twisted, McCarthy isn’t counting out Volkanovski entirely. He believes the featherweight champ’s cardio should hold up in his five-round fight with Makhachev. ‘Big’ John would even consider it a moral victory if Volkanovski makes it to the championship rounds, should he survive the deep waters that is Makhachev’s wrestling.
“So, I have a bigger, stronger fighter who has got a clear advantage when in his strength of taking someone to the ground, controlling their body, making them work. Now, Volkanovski I don’t think he is gonna get tired. I don’t think he’s gonna get tired, but I think that as the tide is starting to come in, he’s gonna find that he’s getting deeper and deeper into a water that he’s having to work harder within to just survive that. It’s just styles of fights in the way they are.
“Look, I could be wrong, but I don’t… honestly, if he gets out of the third round of this fight, he’s a winner.”