Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski: One of the main fights of the year in the UFC

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 Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski: One of the main fights of the year in the UFC

On the night of February 12, the Australian city of Perth will host the UFC 284 – one of the most anticipated this year. The main event will feature two UFC champions – Russian Islam Makhachev and Australian Alexander Volkanovski. The head of the organization, Dana White, has already stated that the fight could become “one of the five main fights of all time.”

At the tournament in Australia, Islam Makhachev will defend his lightweight title for the first time, he won it in October 2022. The 31-year-old champion was born in Makhachkala and has been friends with Khabib Nurmagomedov since childhood.

In 2010, Islam Makhachev had his first professional fight in mixed martial arts — and won. And by 2015, he brought the winning streak to 11 fights and signed a contract with the UFC. In the first UFC fight, he strangled Leo Kunz, but in the next fight, the Brazilian Adriano Martinez knocked out Makhachev in the first round. This defeat is the only one in Islam's career so far. After a knockout from Martinez, Makhachev scored 11 victories in a row. In total, Islam won 23 fights out of 24, and in the UFC – 12 out of 13. Now the next opponent of Makhachev will be the Australian Alexander Volkanovski – featherweight champion, who will rise to lightweight especially for this and try to become the owner of two belts at once.

Officially, this fight will be a duel between the two best fighters in the entire UFC. Volkanovski now occupies the first line of the pound-for-pound rating – of the general list of the strongest fighters of the organization, regardless of the weight category), Makhachev is in second place. This is the first time in the history of the UFC that two leaders of this rating will meet in battle.

Volkanovski started wrestling at the age of eight, but then he became interested in rugby and at 23 he became the state champion in the semi-professional league, having been awarded the title of the best player of the season. But the very next year, Alexander was injured and, healing it, kept in shape in the MMA hall. There he met coach Joe Lopez and decided to return to martial arts, ending his career in rugby. At first, Volkanovski won everything he could in the regional leagues of Australia, and in November 2016 he made his debut in the UFC.

There he quickly “drove” in the featherweight division. During his rugby career, Alexander weighed about 100 kilograms with a height of 168 centimeters, but in MMA he had to lose weight – the miniature Volkanovski simply could not compete with heavyweights under two meters tall. In the UFC, the Australian started with six wins and went on to former Brazilian champion Jose Aldo, winning all three rounds. Soon the fighter got his first title fight and took the belt by defeating Max Holloway. In total, from 2019 to 2022, Volkanovski met with Max three times — and defeated him three times. In total, the 34-year-old Volkanovski has 26 fights in MMA — 25 wins and only one loss.

Makhachev is considered the favorite of the fight. Experts suggest that, moving to a new weight category, Volkanovski will lose in maneuverability, which will be used by Makhachev, who, obviously, will again rely on his wrestling skills. Most likely, in pure physical strength, the advantage will also be with Makhachev, who performs at his usual weight.

Islam. Volkanovski is 10 centimeters shorter than the Russian fighter, but has a larger arm span. In addition, 11 of the last 12 opponents were higher than the Australian, but this did not save them from defeat. At featherweight, Volkanovski is in the top 3 in terms of the number of accented punches (1372) and their accuracy (57%). This is about five times more than that of Makhachev.
If Islam wins, he will top the pound-for-pound rating and set a record, becoming the first fighter to defeat opponents with a winning streak of 10 or more fights in two fights in a row.< br />
If Volkanovski wins, he would become the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold belts in multiple weight divisions. Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo and Amanda Nuniz have done it before.

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