UFC 284 Alexander Volkanovski vs. Islam Makhachev: Breakdown and Predictions

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Islam Makhachev

UFC 284 will take place in Perth, Australia at RAC Arena. After prelims broadcast on ESPN, the main card will air on pay-per view.

UFC 284’s main event features a superfight for lightweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who moves up to challenge Islam Makhachev, at 155 pounds.

An acclaimed wrestler-turned-rugby player, Volkanovski initially stepped onto the scene as a come-forward fighter who typically approached the pocket like an oncoming juggernaut from his compact stance. Volkanovski is a natural athlete and does not have any problems crashing distance with his patent kicks, crosses, and strikes that were often set up by prodding jabs.

Volkanovski, however, has improved his footwork and striking fundamentals by incorporating the influence of Brad Riddell, his sister gym City Kickboxing. He is now able to measure and move in space with more ease and balance. The 34-year old Australian will be changing his combination approach to include stance-debasing kicks as well as long lead hands.

Volkanovski has also taken some of the swagger and feint from his stablemates, showing or throwing out certain shots in order to land others with a larger picture. Although Volkanovski hasn’t had a striking sample size against notable southpaws yet, the featherweight kingpin shows some promising signs.

Looking back on Volkanovski’s battle with the stance-switching Brian Ortega reveals that the Aussie was able, despite brief moments of turbulence, to find answers about Ortega’s southpaw looks.

Given Makhachev’s main venue, it is not surprising that the lightweight champion seeks out takedowns often and early.

Makhachev is akin to Khabib Nurmagomedov who is now his coach. He also scores large portions of his takedowns using chaining attacks within clinch space.

Dagestan’s product is versatile in wrestling, regardless of whether Makhachev works from his favorite single-leg position or hits slick trips from tie-ups.

Volkanovski is not a novice in these situations.

Volkanovski seems to have become more aggressive and smarter since he has resisted his urge to fight. This is due to his awareness of his position, especially against the fence.

Volkanovski’s head position is solid even when he’s taken down. He also shows smart details such as a low underhook that limits front-choke counters when attempting to do things like half-guard moves.

Volkanovski appears to be consistent with these trends. He seems to prefer efficient options such as inside trips from the Clinch to the double or single-legs against fence, which he used to love. Volkanovski embraces his honey badger-like nature by taking on the punishments and riding to secure top position.

However, Makhachev can be difficult to beat, regardless of whether you’re talking mat wrestling or transitional wrestling in general.

Makhachev has a great hip and grip awareness. I also love Makhachev for demonstrating wrist control.

Prediction: Makhachev by decision


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