The fight between UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and featherweight title holder Alexander Volkanovski will be the main event at the UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, on February 12. Volkanovski, who plans to move up the weight class, is slated as the underdog at the local-based sports betting platform OKBET‘s early prediction.
Makhachev, 31, has a record of 23 wins and one loss. On the other hand, Alexander is 34 years old with 25 wins and a loss.
But with the Australian striker entering foreign territory, early predictions favor his opponent. Makhachev, a wrestling specialist, has a moneyline odd of 1.29 compared to Volkanovski’s 3.50.
Makhachev and Volkanovski Fight Analysis
The fight is speculated to be a ground match, with the lightweight champion dictating the pace with his wrestling skills. He has a takedown average of 3.42 and can submit almost all of his opponents with his 1.3 submission average.
Meanwhile, Volkanovski relies on his striking power, landing 6.79 significant strikes per minute. His takedown only averages 1.71 at 36% accuracy. He can also absorb significant strikes, averaging 3.53 per match.
However, the Australian, who had a 10-win streak to start his UFC career, cannot be taken down easily. According to UFC Stats, his takedown defense is 73%, which would prove difficult for Islam despite his 65% takedown accuracy.
Nevertheless, Makchachev has an arsenal of finishes, with his recent victory against former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira highlighting his wrestling expertise. He finished off his opponent via an arm triangle in round 2 of UFC 280 last October 22, 2022.
He can also put opponents to sleep. In his last ten bouts, the Russian fighter knocked out Gleison Tibau (UFC 220) and Bobby Green (UFC Fight Night).
Volkanovski’s recent win was a co-main card in the Israel Adesanya-Jared Cannonier UFC 276 fight last July 2, 2022. His first title defense reached five rounds, winning via unanimous decision against Max Holloway. In his last ten matches, three were via KO (Chan Sung Jung, Chad Mendes, and Jeremy Kennedy).
It will Take More Than Just Striking to Beat Makhachev
Volkanovski will be in for a long night if he cannot knock down Makhachev. The Australian must devise an excellent game plan when facing the Russian. Why? Because Makhachev’s conditioning is elite. His cardio and takedown efficiency are elite, and he has the punching power to knock out opponents.
The underdog also has to improve his takedown defense. It was already a miracle that he survived a nasty guillotine choke and a triangle attempt from Brian Ortega at the UFC 266. But if it was Makhachev who attempted those moves, OKBET players know it is already game over for Volkanovski.
Volkanovski’s plan to move up a division and be a double champ is challenging. Only a few UFC fighters have successfully pulled it off, like Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, Daniel Cormier, etc. However, these fighters have not faced a monster like Makhachev.
A tight contest between Volkanovski and Makhachev is expected. With both fighters having the punching power and the wrestling skills, their fight will involve a lot of wrestling, ground, and pound, with nasty blows in clinches.
But since there is enough reason for the Australian not to take the fight to the ground, given his opponent’s wrestling supremacy, he will most likely use his striking abilities and prevent any of Makhachev’s takedown attempts.
In the most unlikely event that the Russian fighter would stand his ground and brawl, Volkanovski can absorb blows with his above-average striking defense of 60%.
Anything can happen in this match, but I will pick Alexander’s 3.50 odds, even if he is the underdog.