Why Israel Adesanya is betting the house on ‘crafty’ Alexander Volkanovski to beat Islam Makhachev

Israel Adesanya expects Alexander Volkanovski to be able to handle Islam Makhachev’s strength.

Featherweight champion Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) will move up a weight class to challenge lightweight champ Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) in the UFC 284 main event Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.

Although Volkanovski, the UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, hasn’t lost in the octagon, Makhachev currently is a sizable betting favorite due to the dominant nature of his grappling style. But because Volkanovski competed all the way up at welterweight early in his career, his training partner Adesanya says he’s stronger than he looks.

“Volk used to be a fat guy,” Adesanya said on the FLAGRANT podcast. “Like, big boy, brolly, played rugby. When you walk around with that kind of body mass for years, you develop a different kind of muscle density. Even with Volk, I’ve tried to hold him down. I’m not the greatest wrestler, but even with my frame and my leverage, it’s hard to hold him down. He finds his way back up – a crafty veteran. His inside leg kick, his jabs, his hand control, all that sh*t – he’s crafty.

“Islam is great. These (Dagestani) boys, they know what they’re doing. They have their own pedigree and they’re great. I’m biased – of course I’m going to say that because that’s my boy. But I truly, gun to my head, I could bet my whole house on him. Volk is just different. Volk is just the kind of guy – even when he cuts weight, the amount he cuts, for him to have the cardio he has in the later rounds, it’s mind-blowing. The man’s different.”

Makhachev dominated Charles Oliveira en route to a second-round submission to capture the lightweight title at UFC 280. Volkanovski picked up arguably his biggest win when he shut out Max Holloway in their trilogy bout at UFC 276.


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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie