Right after Islam Makhachev won the vacant lightweight title at UFC 280, he went face-to-face with upcoming challenger Alexander Volkanovski. But as the featherweight champ revealed to Israel Adesanya’s younger brother David, it wasn’t their first encounter.
In that previous meeting, Volkanovski felt Makhachev size him up and look underwhelmed.
“I’ve seen him before. He just did a session, I just did a session. And we were just walking. But even him looking like… with a smirk on their face. Obviously, I’m short. Whether I surprised him how short I was, it shouldn’t, ‘cause I’m f—ng tiny,” said the 5-foot-5 Volkanovksi.
“I’ve always been short. That’s how it is. Even the featherweights are taller than me.
“You could even see in his face, the look that, like, ‘this guy ain’t too big.’ I’ve seen that on plenty of people’s faces. I’ve seen that lot in my previous fights. My last four, five fights. That face quickly changes as soon as I’m in front of him in the Octagon.”
Makhachev is known to have the same wrestling and grappling-heavy style. Volkanovski says all he needs is ten seconds to destroy all of that.
“Give me ten seconds with him. That face changes real quick. All of a sudden, that size don’t matter. All of a sudden, my footwork... ‘Where is this guy? I’m in a puzzle!’ It’s already giving him dramas.
“Then I put my hands on him. There’s another problem. Then they try to grab ahold of me and I’m a little brick f—ng wall, there’s another problem. That’s when you start to see him start to crumble and be like, ‘Oh f—k. What have I gotten myself into?’
“That’s exactly what’s gonna happen with Islam. Especially the way he’s looking. I can tell he really thinks he’s just gonna be way too strong.”
Makhachev and Volkanovski will fight for the undisputed lightweight title at UFC 284. It happens on February 11th. in Perth, Australia.