Islam Makhachev is heading into his first title defense and his coach thinks it will be hard fought war.
In 2022, Islam Makhachev was crowned the UFC lightweight champion. He was able to follow in his mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s footsteps and now holds that UFC belt. Many believe that Makhachev is the best fighter in the UFC right now but to officially prove that, he must first take down the number one pound-for-pound fighter Alexander Volkanovski. These two have their meeting all set. They will face off in the main event of the upcoming UFC 284 event in Perth, Australia.
Leading up to this fight there are many factors that fans are considering that could affect the outcome. Makhachev is known for his strong ground game and take-down abilities. Volkanovski has mentioned several times that he is not worried about being taken down. He thinks he will have no problem getting back up. Some believe that Makhachev will come away with the stoppage on February 11, but his coach Javier Mendez is not one of them.
Javier Mendez does not think Islam Makhachev will finish Alexander Volkanovski
Javier Mendez is a well-respected coach in MMA. He has worked with some of the best the sport has ever seen. He has trained former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and has a great relationship with the entire team from Dagestan, including Makhachev. He has not been working with the new champ for this camp but has plans to meet him in Australia later this month. He spoke with Helen Yee about his pupal’s upcoming bout and made a bold prediction for the outcome.
“I expect at the end of the day Islam Makhachev is going to be pound for pound the best fighter in the UFC or in the world actually,” he said. “Pound for pound after he beats Alex which I’m expecting him to do but not like people are thinking, like any kind of finish I don’t like that. It’s gonna be a five-round war.”
Mendez went on to explain that although many people are counting Volkanovski out due to his size, the actual discrepancy is not too great. Mendez feels that ten pounds is not that much and he thinks Volkanovski’s reach is not much shorter at all. He does see Makhachev coming out on top but thinks it will be an earned win over twenty-five minutes.
“In my opinion, there is no one in the lightweight division that’s going to beat Islam outside of what anybody can, you know, anybody can win but on the decision, no one’s going to beat him,” he said.
Predicting that this bout will go the distance may be bold for Mendez. Makhachev has finished his opponents in each of his last five fights. In fact, since coming to the UFC he has only gone the entire fight to decision four times. On the flip side, Volkanovski has gone to decision in five of his last six fights.