Aussie Grappler Craig Jones Says Volkanovski ‘Needed a Finish’ Going Into Fifth Round Against Makhachev

IBJJF world champion Craig Jones comments on last month's epic showdown between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski

Craig Jones
Courtesy of FloGrappling on YouTube / @UFCNews on Twitter

Australian grappler Craig Jones shared his thoughts on last month’s champion vs. champion showdown between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski. 

Jones, a two-time ADCC silver medalist and IBJJF world champion, was in Volkanovski’s corner during the UFC 284 headliner that saw the reigning UFC featherweight titleholder jump up to 155-pounds to challenge lightweight king Islam Makhachev. The pair delivered an early Fight of the Year contender that had fans immediately clamoring for a rematch. 

After 25 grueling minutes, Makhachev received a unanimous decision victory, retaining his title, but falling short of capturing the No. 1 pound-for-pound ranking due to the incredibly close nature of the matchup. Craig Jones, alongside his B-Team Jiu-Jitsu teammates Nicky Rod and Nicky Ryan, spoke with Ethan Crelinsten on YouTube to share his thought on the critically-acclaimed matchup.

“When I was in the corner going into the fifth, I personally believed Volkanovski probably needed a finish to take the victory,” Jones admitted.

“It was a close fight,” Jones continued. “I think sometimes you’re blinded in the moment because again, everyone counted Volkanovski out. The crowd’s behind him. Everything he does is going to get a huge cheer. You’re biased toward the smaller guy. You’re biased toward the underdog so whatever the underdog does has a bigger impact in your mind and sometimes that can bias as the fight goes along. Super close fight. I would really love them to have a rematch, but obviously, that’s going to hold up both divisions so I don’t know if they’ll do it.”

Craig Jones Believes Alexander Volkanovski is The Greatest Fighter of All Time

Despite the loss, Alexander Volkanovski retained his No. 1 pound-for-pound ranking. Asked about his thoughts on who is the greatest fighter of all time, Craig Jones quickly pointed to ‘The Great’ and his many incredible performances against some of the toughest fighters to ever grace the Octagon. 

“From my perspective, I’m gonna say Volkanovski because he was able to decisively outstrike Max Holloway, one of the greatest strikers in the sport and he was able to hang with the wrestling of Islam Makhachev,” said Jones. “And in terms of (Brian Ortega), he was able to survive Ortega who has some of the most dangerous submissions in jiu-jitsu. So I think, technically, in my opinion, he’s the best.”

Turning his attention to Volkanovski’s UFC 284 opponent, Jones discussed Dagestani fighters like Islam Makhachev and Khabib Nurmagomedov and commented on why they are so dominant in the world of mixed martial arts. 

“The amount of freestyle wrestling champions from that region probably puts their wrestling above and beyond the best in all of MMA,” Jones said. “And obviously the Olympics. A lot of champions are out of there. So I think that skillset combined with them adding effective pin controls on the ground and jiu-jitsu submissions, but again, I think it’s that hard training. Those guys like Khabib would maintain that pressure throughout the entire fight and break guys down. Their ability to fatigue guys to a breaking point I think is something they do best.” 

Published on March 6, 2023 at 3:42 pm
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