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Russian UFC champ vows to make challenger ‘panic’

Islam Makhachev is poised to defend his crown against Alexander Volkanovski

Islam Makhachev says that he guarantees title challenger Alexander Volkanovski will “panic” in the first grappling exchange of their world title bout which will headline the UFC’s return to Australia in February. 

UFC lightweight champion Makhachev is set to defend his crown against featherweight king Volkanovski in a champion versus champion matchup which headlines the UFC 284 pay-per-view event.

It is a fight which will pit the Russian’s 11-fight winning streak against Volkanovski’s exceptional run of 22 fights without defeat.

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Despite the Australian champion’s considerable experience and title pedigree, Makhachev forecasts that his rival will fold as soon as he is presented with his distinct brand of Dagestani grappling. 

After first 15 helpless seconds on the ground, I guarantee you will panic,” wrote Makhachev on Twitter in response to a Volkanovski quote in which he suggested that his composure is going to be a key weapon in neutralizing Makhachev’s considerable arsenal of attacks.

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Featherweight champion Volkanovski, though, feels he is made of sterner stuff than that.

There’s a good chance [Makhachev] might get the takedown, he might get a nice trip, whatever it is,” said Volkanovski on the podcast of former UFC champion Michael Bisping.

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 going to be composed, I’m going to be calm and I’m going to 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.”

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UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (R) challenges Islam Makhachev of Russia after his victory over Charles Oliveira
Russian champ Makhachev inks deal to fight UFC pound-for-pound king

The Australian, who boasts an impressive 25-1 career record in mixed martial arts, is bidding to become the latest entrant to the UFC’s exclusive double-champ club in the February fight, an opportunity handed to him after an almost absurd level of dominance in the UFC’s 145lbs division. 

He has earned impressive wins against former champion Jose Aldo, as well as three successive victories against Max Holloway – previously considered to be the best featherweight in the sport’s history.

With that mantle now well and truly associated with Volkanovski after a prolonged spell of dominance, he will next test himself against Makhachev – a fighter whose rise to the top of the sport has been predicted for several years.

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But now with each man facing what is potentially the toughest test of their respective careers, it will be interesting to see if the pre-fight talk of composure or panic plays a part once the bell rings on February 11 – particularly in a contest between two fighters so accustomed to having their own way in the cage. 

December 24, 2022 at 11:04PM
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