The UFC lightweight champion wants to be known for more than his wrestling.
UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev says he wants to prove a point in his first defense.
After claiming the then-vacant UFC lightweight championship with a second-round submission of Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 this past October, Makhachev faced off with his next challenger: Alexander Volkanovski. The UFC featherweight champion and Makhachev agreed to a champ-champ fight, which was promptly scheduled by the promotion to headline its return to Australia with UFC 284 in February.
Ahead of their upcoming fight, Volkanovski acknowledged that Makhachev was the toughest challenge of his professional career, largely in part because of the threat his ‘Dagestani wrestling’ poses. However, if the ‘Great’ has his sole focus on the wrestling, then Makhachev says he could have another coming. In an interview with Carlos Legaspi Contreras of ESPN Deportes, the Khabib Nurmagomedov protégé told Volkanovski he should also be wary of his striking.
“Honestly, I want to knock him out,” said Makhachev. “Everybody says Islam is a grappler or wrestler, but I want to show people my striking. He is a short guy, and I really believe I can knock him out.”
“This is not his area,” continued Makhachev. “I’m from other division. This is not the same power. It’s not the same, and he’s going to understand this, but he wants to try because he’s not losing. If he loses, what is he going to lose? Just belt with him, but he wants to try and jump and make some good money, make some pay-per-view money, but this is not his area.”
Should Makhachev defeat Volkanovski by KO, he would become the second fighter to do so after Corey Nelson, who handed the City Kickboxing product his first-ever loss nearly a decade ago. Since then, Volkanovski has rattled off 22 consecutive wins, with 10 of those happening in the UFC.
UFC 284 goes down on Sat., Feb. 11 at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)