UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev was a sizable favorite leading up to his first title defense at UFC 284 against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. On fight day, the Dagestani registered as a -380 favorite over the +320 underdog that is Volkanovski. He was even favored to win via a finish (-115), while Volkanovski’s chances to end outside of the scorecards was a whopping +700.
As we all know, of course, the fight didn’t meet these expectations. Instead, fans were treated to a back-and-forth battle that had Makhachev winning via a questioned unanimous decision.
Now that the dust has settled and the fight turned out the way it did, Makhachev’s performance is being put under the spotlight. Longtime fight analyst and former boxing trainer Teddy Atlas, for one, highlighted Makhachev’s struggles on the scale.
“Makhachev has trouble making weight,” Atlas said in his YouTube show (quotes via MMA News).
“Okay, he’s a big guy. All right, he took all his clothes off. He just made the weight. Like I said, you know he was struggling to get down to that. We see him have to get naked, you know they put the thing around him so you don’t see him.
“But we know that he’s naked on the scale. What we also have to assume and know is that he had to restrict himself and compromise himself with his diet, and with fluid intake. He had to dry out, maybe a little longer than normal.”
For Atlas, those struggles may have been a factor in Makhachev’s performance, particularly toward the end of the fight.
“He had to do all that fighters have to do to cut that weight. That weakens you,” Atlas explained.
“Is it possible – he’s renowned, Makhavev is renowned for his gas tank. He’s renowned for his extraordinary, superhuman endurance, right? He’s renowned for that. He doesn’t burn out, he just keeps going.
“He was getting gassed at the end more than Volkanovski. And so, did that play into it? I think it could’ve.”
Because of the controversial ending, both Volkanovski and Makhachev have agreed to a rematch, possibly in Abu Dhabi.
About the author: Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments. (full bio)