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Alexander Volkanovski reveals what he said during mid-fight trash talk to Islam Makhachev at UFC 284

Alexander Volkanovski isn’t known for his trash talk, but the reigning UFC featherweight champion has no problem playing mind games when the time is right.

A perfect example came at UFC 284, when Volkanovski engaged in a close, back-and-forth battle with lightweight king Islam Makhachev that ended in a unanimous decision loss. While he entered the fight as a heavy underdog, Volkanovski gave Makhachev everything he could handle — including several exchanges on the ground where the Russian was supposed to be at his most dominant.

That’s when Volkanovski decided to taunt him a little bit, especially after he was told numerous times that Makhachev would likely maul him with his grappling.

“It’s getting in his head,” Volkanovski said at the UFC 284 post-fight press conference. “Even when he had me, I’m going, ‘You’re not that strong.’ I was saying stuff like that, and he was going, ‘You’re just hanging on,’ and I would go, ‘You said 15 seconds, you’re going to drag me to deep waters.’ That type of stuff, I remember that stuff as I go he was hanging on for dear life. So it’s just stuff [like that].

“Not being disrespectful, he’s still in a good position, so it’s up to me to get out of there, but I’m going to get in his head and just kept punching him in the head.”

While Makhachev managed to score several takedowns before eventually advancing his position to take the back on a couple different occasions, Volkanovski never felt truly threatened, which is why he decided to let the lightweight champion hear it.

“I guess a body lock is a dominant position, so the ref just kind of leaves him there, he was just hanging on and trying to hide his head,” Volkanovski said. “[I was] just letting him know. Just like [telling him], ‘You’re trying to survive’ in certain position, that’s all I was saying.”

Despite coming into the matchup as the smaller fighter and hearing how much size and power would play as such an advantage for his opponent, Volkanovski was admittedly surprised by how little that actually factored into the result.

If anything, Volkanovski actually expected Makhachev to impose his will a bit more.

“There was positions where I was like he’s not strong,” Volkanovski said. “I even said it in my corner, you’ll probably hear it, I’m going he’s not strong. I’m not being a d***, I wasn’t being disrespectful, it was just like, he’s not strong. Maybe he’s waiting for me to do something so I didn’t capitalize on it straight away, which I should have and I really started realizing that later on. I was like f***, I could have done more.

“It’s just funny. Everyone wanted to push this crazy narrative, I’m going to f****** run with it. Let you think he’s invincible but it just would have been so much of a better story if I won, right?”

As much as Volkanovski wanted to get in Makhachev’s head during those exchanges, he wasted no time afterward offering congratulations on a job well done.

“We’re both respectful dudes,” he said. “I’m a respectful dude. I went over there and congratulated him.

“Again, I think they really thought I was going to be a walk in the park. Shocked faces but again, I expected them to be shocked. I expected to see his face like I did out there. I just wish I got my hand raised.”

When it comes to the decision itself, Volkanovski won’t offer any excuses or try and dispute the scorecards handed down by the judges. He still needs to watch the fight to really see everything that happened, but he said he’ll likely find plenty of flaws with his performance.

“I’m my hardest critic, I always am,” Volkanovski said. “I f****** blow [opponents out of the water], like I win massive fights and I still remember that one time [he got me]. I remember that one time I didn’t get something. That’s just how I am. I’m very, very harsh on myself and hard on myself.”

With Yair Rodriguez being crowned interim featherweight champion at UFC 284, Volkanovski already has his next assignment. But he’s not giving up on his dream to capture another title in the future.

“You could see that I could definitely win that fight,” Volkanovski said. “I definitely want that fight back. I want that f****** lightweight belt.”

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