Produce Alexander Volkanovski off at your possess peril.
That’s the information that the UFC featherweight champion and No.1 rated pound-for-pound fighter wishes his doubters and critics to know in advance of his future superfight in opposition to UFC lightweight champion and No.2 pound-for-pound fighter Islam Makhachev.
The pair are set to clash in the main event at UFC 284 in Perth following Sunday (AEDT), wherever Makhachev will set his 155-pound championship belt on the line, even though Volkanovski will chance his put atop the pound-for-pound standings.
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“Every time anyone tells me I simply cannot do one thing, that really considerably fires me up and will make me wanna shut them up and show them improper,” Volkanovski explained.
“That is my principal drive, specially for this next one particular. So numerous men and women consider it can not be accomplished. The way individuals are heading on it is like this men invincible and all this sort of things.
“A lot of individuals say (to on their own) ‘I should safeguard my winning streak and I’ll do that (struggle as an alternative) just in case’ but I say f**k that… Which is an prospect there, that’s where you make record, which is what persons are gonna chat about and which is what I’m all about.”
Despite currently being undefeated in the UFC (12-) – and possessing recorded 21 consecutive victories adhering to his sole decline in MMA back again in 2013 – the Wollongong indigenous is a weighty underdog ($4) to defeat Makhachev ($1.24) and earn ‘double champ’ status, according to TAB’s odds.
Contrary to what oddsmakers, his opponent, UFC pundits and fans may assume – the 34-calendar year-outdated is resolute in his perception that he will not be confused by Makhachev’s supposed dimension and energy edge.
“The simple fact that I’m transferring up (excess weight lessons) is normally gonna (generate doubts from persons), in particular with me remaining reasonably brief, and then persons are on the lookout at it stylistically wondering not only is he transferring up exactly where people today have the dimension gain but now he’s versing the best grappler/wrestler in that division,” Volkanovski mentioned.
“Strength has by no means been an issue for me. I have always been undersized with everything I ever did. It’s gonna be a difficult obstacle but I ensure that I can do it.”
UFC legends Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping also sense like Volkanovski’s possibilities in this matchup are getting undersold.
“The two toughest divisions in the UFC are 145-kilos and 155-kilos… you have a king of just one (of individuals) divisions and a king of the other division and however the smaller sized person (Volkanovski) isn’t massive plenty of, I really don’t realize that,” Sonnen claimed previously these days on his YouTube channel.
“I necessarily mean that has just never ever been a aspect any other time we’ve accomplished this (all through heritage)… I do feel that you are being foolish… It seems that you just don’t imagine Volkanovski can offer with the industry (at lightweight) result in you just think he’s way too modest – which is the exact matter you explained about (Conor) McGregor when he went up to ’55, the very same detail you said about (Daniel) Cormier when he went up to heavyweight.”
Bisping meanwhile feels that the Aussies absence of peak and step up in fat course could basically be an gain somewhat than a disadvantage.
“Islam has the greater wrestling, it is as straightforward as that, but Volkanovski is a significantly shorter man and when you are shorter you have a decrease centre of gravity therefore you are more difficult to consider down,” Bisping said throughout a November episode of ‘Fight Talk’.
“Also you are legs are shorter so it’s a smaller concentrate on to get maintain of so Islam’s gonna have to stage transform significantly a lot more to get in deep ample to get all-around the legs or secure a physique lock.
“Volkanovski is also going up in excess weight – which is only a 10-pound maximize – but that is a significant simply because he is gonna be much better (than normal), he’s not gonna have as considerably of a fat minimize, he’s gonna have much more muscle mass and the person is currently exceptionally robust. He has superb takedown defence. Islam Makhachev is gonna have a genuinely really hard time getting him down. On the toes Volkanovski is stunning to enjoy, glance at what he does to people today.”
In the meantime UFC veteran Dan Hooker, who has fought Islam Makhachev and consistently trains with Volkanovski at Metropolis Kickboxing, shares Sonnen and Bisping’s sentiment.
“That’s a difficult person to hold on the deck,” Hooker said in an interview in November.
“He’s a really, pretty stocky young guy and I do not see him (Volkanovski) receiving held down. I have by no means found it and I never foresee it occurring so I in essence consider it’s going to be a striking combat so absolutely everyone can decide how they feel that’s gonna play out.”
Volk proves his class in opposition to Holloway | 01:58
Volkanovski arrives into this struggle riding a wave of momentum after getting named the UFC ‘Fighter of the Year’ following two stellar performances in 2022 and is searching to construct on that relocating forward.
“Incredible 12 months, naturally most important year to day for me with defending the title in large wins about fellas like Max Holloway and Korean Zombie (as properly as remaining named) the pound-for-pound selection one, a couple amazing achievements there, issues that I’m very proud of… but… 2023 is surely gonna major 2022,” Volkanovski mentioned.
“I’m very happy of who I am, who I have turn into, and what I have accomplished but it is not sufficient. I imagine my legacy is nonetheless excellent but I want it to be one particular of the greatest and it begins off clearly with the 12th (of February).”
UFC legend Chael Sonnen believes that Volkanovski is the most underrated UFC fighter of all time.
“Do you know what it’s like to be the undefeated champion of the planet and you just can’t provide an arena to their toes,” Sonnen stated lately on his YouTube channel.
“Do you know what it’s like to stroll out final as the most important party but Chimaev and Burns was 20 minutes previously and that’s the a person that the crowd acquired the most into.
“Do you know what it is like to be a principal occasion on spend-for each-watch and acquiring people get up and their leaving because they know what the results gonna be and they would rather not see the remaining second in exchange for finding to their automobile and receiving house with no a traffic line up. I imply do you know what that would be like and yet he (Volkanovski) dealt with it, he pushed by means of it, and he bought through it anyway.
“It’s a incredibly challenging way to contend when the expectations are so higher… it’s not excellent (to be the favourite in a combat) and Volkanovski dealt with it anyway. You are offering him one thing correct now (by acquiring him as these a weighty underdog). It is a competitive benefit that all tension has been taken off him. It is a aggressive drawback that Islam is predicted to dominate him… I like Volk in this combat from bounce road, but I like him even additional now.”
Volkanovski is so determined to demonstrate his doubters improper and get to his intention of turning out to be double champ that he has experienced a for a longer period than standard combat camp to prepare for no matter what his opponent may possibly throw at him.
“This (challenge) is presently producing me so significantly superior of a fighter than I originally was… Every single (schooling) session that I’m carrying out is a distinct place for this fight. I never wanna waste a solitary moment on anything I ain’t gonna do. Right now just about every moment that I invest in the gymnasium is distinct for Islam,” the Australian champion said.
“Obviously if we never get taken down then elegance but in my head I require to prepare as if we’re likely down. I require individuals to set me in the worst achievable posture I can (be) and I’ll fight from it. That’s why you are going to always see me composed no make a difference where I am. Even if he will get me in a undesirable place, you’ll in all probability see a smile on my face or you are going to probably see me speaking indicating ‘is this all you’ve got’.”
In the meantime his Russian opponent also has a supreme self esteem that he will be victorious following Sunday soon after impressively getting out previous light-weight winner Charles Oliveira back in October.
So self-assured is Makhachev that the Dagestani fighter even went as much as claiming he will finish the Aussie within three rounds and stating “he’s gonna give up” in a new job interview.
Volkanovski has demonstrated he is near difficult to put absent and also demonstrated an incredible capability to under no circumstances give up, even when going through significant adversity like the third spherical of the Ortega battle – wherever he escaped not a person but two terrifying submission tries.
“I’ll be battling for each millimetre and I’ll do that for 25 minutes. You won’t see me crack at all, I’ll just keep heading,” Volkanovski mentioned.
“I will need to capitalise when I’m on the toes. If he normally takes me down, I need to have to get again up and get fingers on him. I need to have to both acquire the round or set him to snooze and I’m heading to be putting arms on him seeking to discover that chin and come across it tough.”
What’s more than just sensation equipped to face up to nearly anything Islam throws at him, Volkanovski thinks that at the time his opponent realises he will not have issues all his very own way for a alter the light-weight champion will be the a person commencing to dilemma what he has gotten himself into.
“Before the combat is distinctive. I did not see any worry in his eyes. He was not sensation not comfortable,” Volk reported.
“It’s a various tale once I’m standing in entrance of you (at combat time) and I get started performing my motion, when I commence placing arms on you, once you grab a keep (of me) and you’re like ‘f**k he’s a solid minimal bastard’, when I get straight back again up and pop you in the experience. Which is when he’ll start off receiving unpleasant.
“I assume he’s gonna be mentally robust as perfectly. I know Khabib and the boys put themselves by way of perform, they teach hard but I really feel like them remaining so uncomfortable on the ft and then getting desperate for takedowns and not remaining as thriving as they prepared, then that is when he’s gonna commence getting rid of his head. Him and his corner.”
As to who will carry on their unbeaten run and emerge victorious in front of a raucous Perth group, we will have to wait around right until future Sunday to discover out.