Lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) will run things back with Charles Oliveira (34-9 MMA, 22-9 UFC) in the UFC 294 headliner, which takes place Oct. 21 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
Makhachev dropped and submitted Oliveira in their first fight at UFC 280 last October, in what was a dominant performance. Featherweight champion Volkanovski gives Makhachev the advantage over the UFC’s all-time leader in submission wins on the ground, but not just if they grappled.
“Who I think is a better MMA grappler? I’m going to point to Islam,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “Jiu-jitsu, we’ll go to Charles. This is going to be pretty controversial: Even if they did a jiu-jitsu match, who do I think will win? I’d still say Islam.
“I think (Oliveira has) got cleaner, crisper sort of submissions and jiu-jitsu moves. But when it comes to actual grappling and control, and dictating where it all goes, I’ve got Islam all day.”
Volkanovski knows first hand how good Makhachev’s grappling is. Although Volkanovski was able to get back to his feet for the most part, he had a hard time dealing with Makhachev’s suffocating pressure throughout their lightweight title fight at UFC 284, where he was edged out in a decision loss.
He still expects Makhachev to be a hard fight for Oliveira.
“I think Charles needs to do a better job of getting back to his feet, pouring the pressure on that way, which could lead to openings, submissions, while he’s building himself back up,” Volkanovski said.
“As Islam is trying to catch him again, maybe leaving his neck vulnerable, then getting him sort of out of position there because on the bottom, you’re not going to get him out of position. Then on the feet is where Charles obviously needs to get Islam for his best bet of winning that fight.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.