Islam Makhachev’s coach Javier Mendez has stated his belief that dominant featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is not a big challenge to the rising lightweight star after the Australian ace indicated his interest in moving up to 155lbs after his trilogy win over Max Holloway at UFC 276.
“I don’t think [Volkanovski] poses as big a threat to Islam as you would think because he’s such a master on the takedown and Alex isn’t going to be able to stop it, no matter what he does,” AKA owner Mendez told Submission Radio recently.
“And Islam’s stand up is so damn good that he can stand with him. So, you know, unless Alex’s ground improves tremendously, I don’t see it as a huge threat to Islam.”
Mendez, who has also coached former champions like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold, does however seem to hold the 11-fight undefeated Charles Oliveira in high regard though, and acknowledges his threat to Makhachev’s own 10-fight unbeaten run in the UFC.
“I see Oliveira as a huge threat, but I don’t see Alex. Only because he ain’t gonna be able to stop Islam from taking it to the ground, and I just don’t think he can handle Islam’s ground game.”
The 4th ranked Makhachev could be next in line to fight Charles Oliveira for the interim lightweight title after ‘Do Bronx’ was stripped of the belt for failing to make weight for his last fight, but the ex-champion continues to also be eager to pursue a blockbuster fight with Conor McGregor instead.
As for Volkanovski, he recently revealed that he broke his thumb in the second round of his latest victory over Holloway and required surgery, which will keep him out of action for the next three months, giving him plenty of time to mull over what he wants to do next.