Alex Volkanovski believes he has the tools to overcome Islam Makhachev’s grappling abilities.
This past Saturday, Makhachev took on top contender Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title in the headlining bout of UFC 280 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Makhachev put in a dominant performance and dispatched ‘do Bronx’ in round two to become the new UFC 155-pound king.
Volkanovski, reigning UFC featherweight champion, was the backup for the main event clash and appears en route to a collision with the Dagestani champion.
Alex Volkanovski wants to show Islam Makhachev ‘what short people can do’
At the post-fight press conference, Alex Volkanovski talked about a potential showdown with Makhachev. He downplayed the threat Makhachev would pose in wrestling and backed himself to do just fine.
“I’m very, very hard to not only take down, but hold down,” Volkanovski said (via MMA Junkie). “One thing I always say, especially these little short legs, they’re very easy to get back to my feet. That’s going to be one hard thing. Getting me down is going to be problem. If you do, I’m bouncing right back up and it’s going to be standup most of the way through. That’s how I see it. And you ain’t going to land on me like that. I don’t just stand in front of you. I come forward and I’m coming straight at you.
“Everyone thinks I’m short, and then I’m punching them in the face and their face changes real quick when I’m in front of him. It’s not an insult. I know I am. But I’m the champ. I’m doing good and I’m going to keep this winning streak going and I’m going to show him what short people can do when they know what they’re doing.”
Volkanovski says it’s a challenge he can overcome
‘The Great’ opened as a sizable underdog in early betting lines for a possible clash between him and the heavier Makhachev. While Volkanovski acknowledged it would be a challenge to go up a division and take on the champion, he believes he has the right skill set to overcome it.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Volkanovski said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not a challenge. But is it a challenge I can overcome and get through? One hundred percent, I guarantee I can. I’m looking forward to doing that. I want to be the underdog, as well. I’m looking forward to people being like, ‘He’s not going to be able to handle the power. He’s going to get taken down. He’s not going to be able to get back up.’
“I can’t wait to – as the fight goes – just proving people wrong as each second goes by. I love being the underdog. If people want to doubt me again, that’s beautiful.”
Company president Dana White stated it ‘made sense’ to give Volkanovski a chance at ‘double-champ’ status against Makhachev. The mega-fight will likely be targeted for the promotion’s return to Volkanovski’s homeland at UFC 284 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia.