Michael Chandler says Alexander Volkanovski can hold his own against Islam Makhachev.
The UFC featherweight champion challenges the UFC lightweight champion at UFC 284, the upcoming pay-per-view scheduled for Feb. 12, 2023, at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. Going up against Makhachev, the City Kickboxing product finds himself as the underdog, with most seeing him at a disadvantage due to the size discrepancy. There is also the powerful wrestling and grappling Makhachev possesses, which no fighter has had an answer for throughout his professional career.
However, Chandler says Volkanovski has one: his strength.
“I’m a huge Volkanovski fan,” Chandler told Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie recently. “He’s very, very good. Is he gonna be smaller than Islam? Yes, very much so. I’ve said before — I think I’ve somewhat changed my prediction a little bit. I do think Volkanovski is gonna do better than we all think he does. He used to weigh 210 pounds, 220 pounds, whatever he was when he was playing rugby. Your body remembers that.
“You carry that strength with you,” continued Chandler. “You carry that power with you. You carry just the hip strength of Islam not being able to take him down. The one thing I see is that Volkanovski is a little bit shorter, so that leverage game of if Islam gets up underneath him, puts his head underneath his chin, he’s gonna be able to lift him off the ground pretty easy.”
Should Volkanovski stay off the ground and on the feet with Makhachev, ‘Iron’ sees him at an advantage. Similar to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Chandler says the ‘Great’ has the quicker hands.
“In the striking department, Volkanovski is better than him,” said Chandler. “I think in the speed and the power department, Volkanovski is better than him. So, anything outside of Islam going out there and taking him down in the first minute of each round and holding him down, I think Volkanovski might actually squeak out a decision. Most likely not a finish, but a decision.”
If Volkanovski defeats Makhachev, he becomes the fifth champ-champ in UFC history, joining the likes of Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo.