Alexander Volkanovski has been keeping a close eye on the upcoming lightweight title tilt.
The current UFC featherweight champion is locked in as the replacement fighter should anything go wrong at UFC 280. In the main event, the vacant 155-pound crown is on the line when former champion Charles Oliveira finally squares off with surging top contender Islam Makhachev.
Come weigh-in day, Volkanovski will hit the scale with the intention of making the lightweight limit whether he fights or not. Ideally, Volkanovski won’t be fighting that night which will lead him to seemingly face the winner for his next time out, according to UFC President Dana White earlier this week.
As prepared as they come, the current pound-for-pound great has been analyzing both top fighters ahead of a showdown with either and has a prediction for the victor.
“Obviously, I’ve been studying these guys so I sort of know how this will go and how I’ll approach it, but how is Charles gonna approach it? How is Islam gonna approach Charles?” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “We don’t know, but I think if I had to lean towards someone it would have to be Islam.
“No disrespect to Charles because Charles has proved himself, but I just think stylistically that’s maybe how I see it going. Either late finish, whether it’s kimura, armbar, arm triangle, that type of stuff, or decision. And obviously, if I need to step in, you never know. As I always say, you know I’m a safe bet.”
Oliveira goes into the bout still viewed by most as the division’s champion. Unfortunately for “Do Bronx,” he officially lost the title on the scale his last time out for UFC 274 in May when missing weight by half a pound. Regardless, he defeated Justin Gaethje in thrilling fashion, finding a rear-naked choke in round one after some chaotic striking exchanges.
The expectation for Oliveira vs. Makhachev is to inevitably hit the mat as both are stellar grapplers in very different ways. However, adversity has been limited in Makhachev’s 23-fight career to this point and because of that, Volkanovski feels it will set the Dagestan native apart in the matchup.
“Charles is the underdog as the champion,” Volkanovski said. “He’s proven himself, obviously, but I can still see why he’s maybe the underdog. A lot of people think that’s disrespectful, I don’t think it is. I think maybe they’re just looking at Islam being able to control him, right?
“To be honest, I think Islam’s control, the way he approaches grappling is all about control. Controlling the legs, controlling the hips, climbing, staying heavy, sticking him in certain positions, and then slowly going into better positions and grinding him out that way. [He] doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
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Fear the wrestler…?
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More like “Wholeslam.”
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No excuse now.
Lauren Murphy (16-5) vs. Jessica Andrade (23-9); UFC 283, Jan. 21
It’s a relatively minor detail to point out in the control factor, but I think that could be a huge one from Volk. Surely, he knows better than most. I still have to favor Olives, but I can’t wait to see it all shake out.
Thanks for reading!
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