Las Vegas – In an unprecedented turn of events, the UFC’s lightweight division will witness a historic and high-stakes rematch this Saturday at UFC 294. Current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev is set to defend his title against the formidable Alexander Volkanovski in a bout that has the MMA world buzzing with anticipation. The rematch comes just eight months after their initial meeting at UFC 284, which is still considered one of the standout fights of the year. This time, however, there’s a plot twist that adds a unique layer of complexity to the contest.
Originally, Makhachev was scheduled for a rematch with Charles Oliveira, the former champion, who fell victim to a nasty cut during training camp, forcing his withdrawal from the event. To rescue this pay-per-view blockbuster, the UFC turned to Alexander Volkanovski, who courageously accepted the challenge with a mere 12 days’ notice. This bold move led to significant changes in the card’s lineup, underlining the agility of the UFC matchmaking team and the fighters’ resolute commitment to showcasing their skills on the grand stage.
Let’s delve into the paths to victory for both Makhachev and Volkanovski and explore the intriguing aspects of this highly-anticipated rematch.
Makhachev’s Strategies for UFC 294
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The first fight between Makhachev and Volkanovski was undoubtedly competitive, but Makhachev secured the win, gaining unanimous decision from the judges. He managed to dominate three out of five rounds, highlighting his overall superiority in both the striking and grappling exchanges.
One of the key factors that favored Makhachev in the initial bout was his size advantage over Volkanovski. Makhachev, although not as imposing as Khabib Nurmagomedov, appeared significantly larger than his opponent, which granted him an edge in certain clinches and striking situations. Makhachev’s skills as a striker are often underestimated; his impeccable timing, defensive responsibility, and ability to land countershots effectively make him a formidable opponent. He managed to tag Volkanovski with counterpunches throughout the fight, creating opportunities for grappling exchanges.
Surprisingly, Makhachev struggled in the grappling department, a realm in which he usually excels. Volkanovski proved difficult to control, and when he was in a disadvantageous position, he employed an unconventional strategy of exposing his back to the opponent. This tactic allowed him to fight the hands and break free, which significantly challenged Makhachev’s control. In their upcoming rematch, Makhachev should expect to see Volkanovski use this strategy again and be prepared to counter it effectively.
For the rematch, Makhachev should consider using more kicks to destabilize Volkanovski and exploit his shifting steps, a technique that Volkanovski relies on due to his size disadvantage. Additionally, Makhachev should prioritize damaging Volkanovski in dominant positions rather than seeking submissions. Given Volkanovski’s strong defensive abilities and lack of a substantial neck for choking, a striking-focused approach could prove more effective.
Volkanovski’s Road to Victory at UFC 294
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As Alexander Volkanovski steps in for this high-stakes rematch, he faces a formidable challenge, especially when considering that Makhachev is a better fighter than he was eight months ago. Nevertheless, Volkanovski has several avenues to victory that are worth exploring.
In the first fight, Volkanovski’s game plan appeared to prioritize avoiding getting overrun by Makhachev rather than asserting his own offense. Given the competitive nature of the initial bout, Volkanovski should focus on being more proactive with his striking and grappling techniques. He should aim to tire out Makhachev and leverage his cardio advantage to create chaos from the outset.
In the striking department, Volkanovski should shift his focus to target Makhachev’s body more effectively. The use of jabs and hooks to the body can serve as effective deterrents against clinches and the closing of the distance. In contrast to his head-hunting strategy from the previous fight, prioritizing body work should be his primary focus.
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On the grappling front, Volkanovski should take a more aggressive stance in pursuing takedowns. While grappling with Makhachev entails certain risks, the latter is predominantly a top-position grappler. When Volkanovski managed to secure a top position in the first fight, Makhachev was noticeably limited in his responses. Thus, Volkanovski should commit to this strategy and remain active and in motion.
Additionally, Volkanovski should avoid conceding his back to Makhachev, a tactic that worked in the first fight until it didn’t. Instead, he should turn into Makhachev and use butterfly techniques to maintain distance and avoid compromising positions.
X-Factors in UFC 294 Rematch
The short notice under which Alexander Volkanovski accepted the rematch and the change in venue from the first fight in Australia to Abu Dhabi add significant complexities to the rematch. While Volkanovski’s preparation for the fight remains a mystery, there are speculations that he may have been training for this opportunity in advance