Lightweight champion Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) will make his first title defense against Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) in the UFC 284 headliner Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. The event airs on pay-per-view following prelims expected on ESPN and ESPN+.
Volkanovski is moving up a weight class to face dominant grappler Makhachev, but Rogan thinks his speed could play a factor.
“Has Islam seen anybody that can move as fast as Volkanovski?” Rogan said in a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Sean O’Malley. “What if he starts catching him? What if he catches him a few times on the feet, and if he can avoid a takedown? I mean, you’re dealing with a significantly quicker guy, probably. (Makhachev has) probably never fought anybody that quick.”
However, when discussing the matchup with O’Malley, Rogan did express some concern over Volkanovski’s size.
“Do you think he’s big enough to compete against a guy like Islam, who’s a really big ’55?” Rogan said. “Islam is big. I don’t know what he’s cutting, but he’s got the perfect physique for that weight class. He’s very, very lean. He makes the weight, and he’s obviously way bigger when he’s competing. He doesn’t look anything like a ’55-pound guy.
“The thing is the grappling. If you look at Volkanovski, he’s got really good takedown defense and he can take guys down. He took Max Holloway down a bunch, but he’s not the biggest guy even at ’45.”