Volkanovski Has to Defy the Odds Against Makhachev

Jan 19, 2023
A. J. Riot

Only four fighters in the history of the UFC have held championship belts in two weight divisions. Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Henry Cejudo have managed it in the men’s brand, while Amanda Nunes is the only female star to become a double champion.

UFC pound-for-pound number one Alexander Volkanovski is looking to add his name to that list when he steps up in weight to face lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. It is billed as one of the biggest events in world sport in 2023.

Not only will Volkanovski be fighting a man who is bigger than him, but Makhachev is one of the most dangerous operators in UFC, as he has won his last five fights inside the distance. He forced a submission from Charles Oliveira to claim his world title last October at UFC 280.

The oddsmakers make Volkanovski the underdog in this fight. He is +260 with Bodog to prevail and cause an upset. Not only can fans get the best UFC odds with the sportsbook, but they can land up to $400 in welcome promotion when they open an account.

Although the Australian is up against it this time in the Octagon, he will be full of confidence. Since winning the UFC Featherweight Title against Max Holloway in 2020, he has defended his belt three times. He got the better of Brian Ortega in his sole appearance in 2021, while in 2022, he had wins over Jung Chan-sung and Holloway, with the latter coming by a unanimous division at UFC 276.

The 28-year-old has won his last 22 fights across all brands. He made his UFC debut in 2016 and it took him six years to become the top-ranked fighter in the pound-for-pound list, jumping ahead of some of the biggest names in the sport. His legacy is likely to be determined by how he fares against Makhachev.

Volkanovski is set to have strong home support behind him in the RAC Arena in Perth. It will be his first fight back in the Western Australia city since 2018. The last time he fought in his home country, he beat Jeremy Kennedy by TKO in the second round.

Lightweight Champion Hoping to UFC’s Best Tag from Volkanovski

Although victory over Oliveira helped Makhachev complete his dream of becoming a UFC champion, his aspirations don’t end there, which is why he called out Volkanovski immediately after winning his UFC title.

Success over the only man above him in the pound-for-pound standings is the best way of being promoted from second place to the top of the list. If he produces an emphatic victory in Perth inside Volkanovski’s home country, he will most likely snap up the Australian’s first position.

Makhachev joined the UFC in 2015. He was beaten on his second appearance with the brand when Adriano Martins prevailed by TKO following a punch in the opening round of their contest. Since then, the Russian-born fighter has recorded 11 straight victories.

The UFC Lightweight Champion has been working with Khabib Nurmagomedov in recent fights, however, the Hall of Famer has announced he is taking time away from coaching to pursue other projects.

Makhachev has been involved in a grueling training campaign for this fight, with a lot of his work done outside in extremely cold temperatures, as posted on his social media accounts. He has also climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia and Europe. The former sambo world champion is hoping that his preparation will put him in the best shape ahead of what is arguably the biggest fight of his career.

UFC 284 is set to take place on February 11 and the card will also feature the featherweight contest between Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett.

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