The much-anticipated superfight between the #1 and #2 ranked pound-for-pound fighters, UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski and UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, took place on Saturday night at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. The two engaged in a skillful, five-round war that saw Makhachev’s seemingly indomitable grappling game fractured by Volkanovski’s unwavering will, cardio and wrestling defense and Volkanovki’s stellar stand-up game tested by Makhachev’s sniper-like striking precision and careful countering. Makhachev would end up winning the fight by unanimous decision, though it’s one that will surely be contentious among fight fans and analysts alike until another meeting between the two can potentially clarify a more decisive victor.
In one exchange when the fight went to the mat with Makhachev trying to lock in a submission, the two seemed to exchange words as they threw punches at one another. Alexander Volkanovski revealed what was said during his mid-fight trash talk session with Islam Makhachev in the post-fight press conference, with the words exchanged centering around Volk’s rebuttal to Islam predicting pre-fight that once he got Volk to the ground, he wouldn’t be able to get back up.
“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.’ So it’s just stuff [like that].
Volkanovski continued, “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 was able to take Volkanovski down a few times during the fight and apply pressure, Volk was able to defend in such a way that he never felt threatened and was never in trouble of being submitted, an outcome that many fans and analysts predicted that Makhachev would be able to pull off considering Volk moved up a weight class to challenge the bigger Russian fighter.
“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 being the smaller fighter from a weight class below Makhachev, which would suggest that Makhachev would be able to use strength and weight to his advantage, Volkanovski, as he stated in pre-fight interviews, was stronger than ever, arguably outmuscling the bigger Makhachev during clinches and during the final round when he was able to full mount the Dagestan native.
“There was positions where I was like he’s not strong. I even said it in my corner, you’ll probably hear it, I’m going he’s not strong,” Volkanovski continued. “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?”
Although there was some rashing going on before and during the fight, Volkanovski explained that both he and Islam are respectful of one another, although Volkanovski believes that Islam and his team underestimated just how difficult of an opponent he’d turn out to be.
“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.”
Volkanovski is expected to face Yair Rodriguez, who defeated Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight championship as part of the co-main event on the night event — but he still hasn’t dispelled his dream of adding yet another championship to his resume.
“You could see that I could definitely win that fight,” Volkanovski said. “I definitely want that fight back. I want that f****** lightweight belt.”
Did you think the Alexander Volkanovski vs. Islam Makhachev scorecard decision was the right one? Who do you think won the fight? Let us know in the comments.