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Morning Report: Alexander Volkanovski guarantees composure if taken down by Islam Makhachev: ‘I will not panic’

UFC 284 Media Opportunity Photo by Paul Kane/Zuffa LLC

Alexander Volkanovski is well aware of what he’ll be dealing with on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia.

UFC 284 helps kick off 2023 with a bang as the promotion’s second PPV event of the year. Atop the night of action in a long-awaited return to Oceania, the featherweight champion looks to claim dual-division titleholder status by dethroning recently crowned lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev.

Makhachev has been a dominant force throughout his MMA career thus far with only one loss on his 24-fight resume. The Dagestan native has replicated a similarly imposing wrestling game to his longtime teammate, friend, and mentor turned coach, the division’s former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. When it comes to the Russian masters of sport in Sambo, there’s no secret to what they want to do and Volkanovski promises he’ll be more prepared than anyone who’s faced these types of unique challenges.

“A lot of people just prevent getting there [on the ground],” Volkanovski said on the Believe You Me podcast. “I’m like, if the fight doesn’t go there, that’s a bonus, but I need to be prepared and ready for if it does go there because there’s a good chance. There’s a good chance he might get the takedown, he might get a nice trip, whatever it is. I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t, I’m working everything right now. But if it does, I guarantee you this; I’m gonna be composed, I’m gonna be calm and I’m gonna be fighting my ass off to get back to my feet and I will not panic. You won’t see me lose composure, nothing like that because the amount of hours I’m doing, that’s why I’m so calm. Preparation is everything, it’s just that a lot of people don’t prepare how they should.

“A lot of people are like, ‘Ah, I won’t get there.’ But what if you do? Be ready. Except for me. We know what he wants to do. So, even if he does get me there, I’m gonna be more than prepared, more than ready.”

Champion vs. champion fights are always a relatively big deal and feel more special than your regular title fight. Especially when, in this case, the top 2 pound-for-pound fighters in the official UFC rankings are colliding.

Volkanovski is currently at No. 1 on the list after collecting four title defenses with zero losses dating back to his fourth pro fight, which was at welterweight. The 25-1 “Great” is no stranger to the lightweight waters, having fought there five times. His last appearance at the weight came in Nov. 2016 in his UFC debut against Yusuke Kasuya — a bout that also took place in his home of Australia.

While the aspect of two titleholders going at it along with the top pound-for-pound spot on the line is motivation enough, Volkanovski’s underdog status against a surging new champion is what’s really helping drive him.

“As soon as it was Islam and people telling me that — you know, I love people doubting me — saying, ‘Ah, yeah, he’s gonna be too big, too strong,’ and all this,” Volkanovski said. “This challenge, the opponent that I’ve got, that excites me more.

“I think going for this champ-champ and taking out someone like Islam is really what people are going to sort of remember. Again, a lot of people think he’s unstoppable right now, but I’m gonna show you that he is stoppable. I can’t wait to go out there and do my thing.”


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VIDEO STEW

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Between the Links. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck and Alexander K. Lee discusses 2022 MMA award winners.

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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Praise.

Fighter pay.

Stats.

A little light.

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Advice.

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But wait...!

MMA isn’t serious.

Family time.

Hype.

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Secret moves.

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Promotion.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Marcin Tybura (23-7) vs. Blagoy Ivanov (19-4); UFC Vegas 68, Feb. 4

Neiman Gracie (11-4) vs. Michael Lombardo (13-3); Bellator 290, Feb. 4

Julian Marquez (9-3) VS. Marc-André Barriault (14-6); UFC 285, March 4


FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m extremely excited for Makhachev vs. Volkanovski. As I’m sure the reoccurring readers know, it seems I believe it will be more competitive than most do. I did it for a while though, trust me; I counted out Volkanovski probably about up until the Ortega fight. I’m not saying he’ll win this one (yet), but I’m definitely not counting the man out anymore. Even if it isn’t in his primary weight class.

No Morning Report for Monday due to the holidays. Hope everyone has a good and safe weekend! Stay warm and thanks for reading.


EXIT POLL

Poll

Is Volkanovski’s only hope to prevent the takedown against Makhachev?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Yes
    (195 votes)
  • 61%
    No
    (311 votes)
506 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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