Islam Makhachev planned on knocking Alexander Volkanovski out at UFC 284 this past Saturday. But that plan changed after their fight started.
One of the main storylines heading into the fight was how Volkanovski was going to deal with the ‘Dagestani wrestling’ Makhachev had dominated his previous opponents with. The UFC featherweight champion was excited to solve the unsolvable, but Makhachev cautioned him from solely focusing on wrestling. For the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product, his striking was just as dangerous, which was why he planned on knocking the ‘Great’ out.
However, when Makhachev got to the fight with Volkanovski, he realized how strong his opponent was. In fact, the Khabib Nurmagomedov protégé admitted he may have been too strong to knock out.
“Honestly, I didn’t have a plan before the fight to wrestle all five rounds because I know he’s shorter and I have a reach longer than him,” said Makhachev in his post-fight press conference (video provided by MMA Fighting). That’s why I told all the media I’m going to try to knock him out. I landed many good punches, good knees, but this guy is so strong. That’s why he was the best fighter in the world before. Not now, but before.”
Though unable to get the knockout, Makhachev was able to wobble Volkanovski in some of their exchanges. That may have come as a surprise to those who thought the City Kickboxing staple would have more success in striking. And to his credit, he did to some degree, as he also wobbled Makhachev.
But to others, including Makhachev, there was no reason to be surprised because he knew his striking would pose a threat to Volkanovski.
“I always believe [in] my striking,” said Makhachev. “I have good skills. I have good coaches in my team: coach Javier [Mendez], coach Muhammad and all my corners. You know, the best in the world. I know my skills.
“That’s why I tried to knock him out, but this guy is so strong,” continued Makhachev. “I landed many good punches, many good knees but he’s still fighting. I give him big cut, but this guy is a real champion.”
Makhachev went on to defeat Volkanovski by unanimous decision, retaining the UFC lightweight championship and notching his first successful defense.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)
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