UFC 280 backup fighter Alexander Volkanovski is picking Islam Makhachev to finish Charles Oliveira after studying both fighters intensely in the weeks leading up to their lightweight title showdown in Abu Dhabi.
Volkanovski was on standby in case either fighter didn’t make weight but both fighters hit the scales on target, much to the delight of the fans, as this is widely considered one of the most highly-anticipated and scintillating matchups of the year.
Volkanovski, who will be ringside for the event, explained why he believes Makhachev will probably get the finish late in the fight but stressed that Oliveira, who is considered the people’s champ, is not to be dismissed.
“Obviously, I’ve been studying these guys so I sort of know how this will go and how I’ll approach it, but how is Charles gonna approach it? How is Islam gonna approach Charles?” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMA Fighting). “We don’t know, but I think if I had to lean towards someone it would have to be Islam.“
“No disrespect to Charles because Charles has proved himself, but I just think stylistically that’s maybe how I see it going. Either late finish, whether it’s kimura, armbar, arm triangle, that type of stuff, or decision.”
“Charles is the underdog as the champion,” he added. “He’s proven himself, obviously, but I can still see why he’s maybe the underdog. A lot of people think that’s disrespectful, I don’t think it is. I think maybe they’re just looking at Islam being able to control him, right?
“To be honest, I think Islam’s control, the way he approaches grappling is all about control. Controlling the legs, controlling the hips, climbing, staying heavy, sticking him in certain positions, and then slowly going into better positions and grinding him out that way. [He] doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev takes place tomorrow, October 22, at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.