The UFC heads to the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, this weekend with a highly-anticipated megafight between two of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Newly crowned lightweight champion Islam Makhachev returns to the cage and will face the lightweight champion in his first title defense. Makhachev holds a record of 23-1 and won the title last October with a submission win against Charles Oliveira.
Volkanovski, who has a record of 25-1, recently made the fourth successful defense of his 145-pound belt against Max Holloway and boasts a 22-fight winning streak.
Islam Makhachev: A Dangerous Grappler
- Nationality: Russian
- Date of birth: October 27, 1991 (age 31)
- Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
- Reach: 70 in (178 cm)
- MMA Record: 23-1
- UFC Record: 12-1
Since making his UFC debut in 2015, Islam Makhachev has established himself as one of the most dangerous fighters in the lightweight division. With only one loss in his UFC career and a finishing rate that is second to none, Makhachev has built a reputation for getting opponents to the mat and dominating them on the ground. Like his former coach and friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev is known for his grappling skills, but what has been overlooked is his striking ability.
In his last fight against Charles Oliveira, Makhachev showed that he is more than just a grappler. His improvements as a striker were on display and he was able to showcase his boxing ability. Makhachev excels at cutting off the cage and backing his opponents against the fence, before shooting for a takedown. He blends his striking and grappling attempts seamlessly, making it difficult for opponents to defend.
Makhachev doesn’t have a particularly flashy style, but it’s effective. He is patient and doesn’t force anything that would put him in a bad position. He mixes up his combinations well and is particularly effective with his left straight and right body kicks.
However, he’ll want to be wary of standing with Volkanovski for too long in this matchup. Makhachev’s best pathway to victory comes on the back of his elite wrestling ability.
Alexander Volkanovski: A Fast and Sharp Striker
- Nationality: Australian
- Date of birth: September 29, 1988 (age 34)
- Height:5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
- Reach: 71 in (180 cm)
- MMA Record: 25-1
- UFC Record: 12-0
Alexander Volkanovski is one of the most talented strikers in the featherweight division and arguably in the UFC overall. In his last fight, Volkanovski was at his best, showing incredible speed and sharpness in the octagon. He was able to maintain this quickness through all five rounds, suggesting that fatigue may not be a factor for the featherweight champion in this fight.
For Volkanovski to have a chance of defeating Makhachev, he will need to rely on his striking and speed. Although Makhachev has improved as a striker, he entered the UFC as a wrestler. Volkanovski may be able to exploit Makhachev’s striking in this matchup. The jab will be crucial for Volkanovski to create different angles on his strikes and move away from Makhachev’s power hand. Volkanovski’s leg kicks will also be important as they could slow down Makhachev throughout the fight.
Volkanovski has repeatedly stated that he isn’t intimidated by Makhachev’s wrestling ability, yet his best chance of winning this one will surely come on the feet. Volkanovski will need to be quick with his strikes and use his speed to stay on the move and keep the fight standing. He will also need to switch stances frequently to ensure he’s always switching directions and getting away from Makhachev’s power hand.
This fight promises to be an epic battle between two of the best fighters in their respective weight classes. Makhachev is a dangerous grappler who has shown that he is more than just a wrestler, while Volkanovski is a fast and sharp striker who will need to rely on his speed and movement to win. With so much at stake, both fighters will leave everything in the octagon, making this a must-watch fight for all MMA fans.