Alexander Volkanovski predicts Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 302: “It’s just a hard fight”

Alexander Volkanovski (right) recently broke down the upcoming Islam Makhachev (left) vs. Dustin Poirier (center) fight [Images Courtesy: @islam_makhachev @dustinpoirier and @alexvolkanovski Instagram]
Alexander Volkanovski (right) recently broke down the upcoming Islam Makhachev (left) vs. Dustin Poirier (center) fight [Images Courtesy: @islam_makhachev @dustinpoirier and @alexvolkanovski Instagram]

Alexander Volkanovski analyzed the upcoming lightweight title fight between champion Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier. Volkanovski, who fought Makhachev twice in the UFC, shed light on his learnings about Makhachev's game and gave his pick for the UFC 302 fight.

In his recent YouTube video, Volkanovski noted that Makhachev vs. Poirier could be a good fight but confidently predicted the Dagestani fighter would retain the title:

"I think Islam's going to be too good. I think he's too safe of a fighter to make mistakes where he's going to get caught against someone like Dustin Poirier. Dustin Poirier is a great fighter. I just think it's just a hard fight, a hard fight for anybody."

He added:

"I don't see anyone beating Islam for a while unless they catch him, right? The only way I see, this is how I have always been in my division. I've always said, 'Anyone has a puncher's chance. Anyone can catch you.' But that was the only way I ever saw myself losing. That was, you know, someone catching me. Because that can happen."

Check out Alexander Volkanovski's breakdown below (11:21):

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Alexander Volkanovski highlights a key difference that could present huge problems for Islam Makhachev against Dustin Poirier

Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier are both southpaw fighters. As an overwhelmingly large majority of human beings are right-handed, the same holds in the combat sports circuit.

Speaking in the aforementioned UFC 302 breakdown video, Alexander Volkanovski said that fighting a southpaw fighter could open a new set of challenges to Makhachev, who, like most fighters, has primarily dealt with orthodox fighters in training as well as competition:

"Southpaw vs. Southpaw. We know southpaw in training, in fighting, majority of the time, you are fighting orthodox fighters.You are going to be a lot more comfortable fighting orthodox fighters. That's because the rounds you're doing, the time on the mat is spent usually going to be with orthodox fighters. They're just more of them." [12:16]

Volkanovski said Makhachev likes to ensure his head is off the center line and away from his opponent's power side. This helps him stay safe when making entries for striking or takedowns.

Volkanovski feels that during heated exchanges with Poirier, Makhachev might instinctively dip his head away from the right side. But this could expose him to the power side of the southpaw fighter in Poirier.

"Power-side uppercuts, power-side kicks, power-side knees. So now you're dipping your head to that power line." [13:45]

However, the former featherweight champion believes Makhachev is a calculative fighter who might outmaneuver Poirier in this area.

Makhachev vs. Poirier will headline the UFC 302 pay-per-view event scheduled to take place on June 1. Makhachev is a betting favorite heading into the fight. If he emerges victorious, the Dagestani fighter will tie the record for most title defenses in UFC lightweight history (three) with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, and BJ Penn.

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