Alexander Volkanovski has been training with a grappling wizard to prepare for Islam Makhachev at UFC 284
At UFC 284, on February 11, current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will make his UFC lightweight debut to challenge current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev for a second title. This fight has the potential to determine the current pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
The UFC lightweight championship fight was announced by the organization on Saturday. Australia’s capital city of Perth will host Volkanovski’s challenge. The UFC has not scheduled a fight between two active champions (including interim champions) since March 2021.
There is little doubt that at 155 pounds, Makhachev’s ground game is unmatched, and the latest submission victory over record-holder Charles Oliveira is a testament to that. Volkanovski is training with world-renowned No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Craig Jones to neutralize that advantage.
Australian Craig Jones holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and competes at a high level in some of the most elite grappling tournaments in the world. Jones holds three Polaris Pro Grappling titles and two silver medals from the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships in addition to his IBJJF world No-Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu championship.
Makhachev is a master of clinch and body locks. He has a wide array of skills in his arsenal and does not use the usual single or double leg to takedown his opponents. The Dagestani realized that Oliveira is dangerous with his guillotine choke attempts. Had he entered his realm with single or double leg attempts, ‘Do Bronx’ would have wrapped his neck. Instead, Makhachev used body locks to take him down and it was in fact his striking that helped him win the fight.
All of these combined prompted Volkanovski to train for the fight under the watchful eye of a grappling wizard. Jones has an impressive record of RNC finishes, but he is also extremely proficient with his leg lock system, as evidenced by a large number of heel hooks in his BJJ portfolio. A number of notable fighters, including current UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns, UFC legend Dennis Hallman, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, and the late Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, have fallen victim to his wicked heel hook.
Craig Jones is impressed by Islam Makhachev’s grappling skills
Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski are set to headline UFC 284 next year in Perth, Australia. The fight card is already shaping up well, with many interesting contests already being booked for the February 11 pay-per-view event.
Makhachev had to defeat Charles Oliveira, the promotion’s greatest submission threat of all time to capture the UFC lightweight gold. Fans thought Makhachev would be the one to get submitted in this much-anticipated bout, but it was the Dagestani who ended things with an arm-triangle choke in the second round.
Speaking with @Sa_Gwang on Twitter, Jones heaped praises on Makhachev while also siding with the Dagestani on his comments that a lot of fighters should be stripped off their grappling black belts:
“I honestly agree when Makhachev says a lot of people deserve to have their black belts taken away. I kind of agree with that. I think what those guys are doing is sort of superior to what we’ve been doing for a long time. Cause we build an entire sport around conceding bottom position. I’m not one of those guys that says we should grapple with people who are striking us, but I believe we should grapple as if the top guy knows how to pass and pin,” he added. “A lot of guys don’t mind being on bottom because they’ve never rolled with a guy that knows how to pass guard or pin someone. So, they don’t know how fatiguing and horrible it is.”
Furthermore he added:
“Everyone thinks they’re good at guard until they come across a guy that really can pass well,” Jones said. “And then suddenly they think, ‘S—t. I’d rather be standing, I’d rather be on top.’ But they don’t know to get there and if they do they don’t know how to hold someone down. I think Makhachev’s grappling is superior to what a lot of the traditional jiu-jitsu guys do,” he continued. “Cause they don’t know how to hold someone down. They have no idea how to do it. So, we really gotta reverse engineer what Makhachev’s doing, which I’ve been trying to do on top, and then I’m trying to teach these guys how to do it so I can practice doing it on bottom.”
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