Volkanovski predicts Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

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Alexander Volkanovski sees Islam Makhachev reigning over the lightweight division for a while.

Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) defends his lightweight title against Dustin Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 302 (pay-per-view/ESPN2/ESPN+) headliner at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

“Islam’s going to be too good,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “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 a hard fight for anybody and I don’t see anyone beating Islam for a while – unless they catch him, right?”

In a matchup between two southpaws, former featherweight champion Volkanovski analyzed where Makhachev could face problems – even though he thinks he’s too calculated to fall into them.

“He doesn’t like to come in straight where he feels in danger,” Volkanovski said of Makhachev. “He’ll make sure he’s off center. His head is off line and then he gets himself back into a better posture as he’s taking you down. Khabib was like this, as well. The posture is not right, but he’s doing this to keep his head off center and not in the firing line, and he still does a great takedown from there.

“But now he’s going to be doing that with a southpaw fighter. So you dip, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable shooting. If someone pressures you and gets you off guard, or your instinct reaction is to shoot, most of the time you’re shooting against orthodox fighters, your head’s going to dip to this side. Now you’re dipping to the power side of Poirier because he’s southpaw: power side uppercuts, power side kicks, power side knees.”

Volkanovski fought Makhachev twice – losing a close decision at UFC 284, then getting knocked out in their short-notice rematch at UFC 294. He predicts that Makhachev will put Poirier away.

“I think Islam is that good where it’s going to be a finish,” Volkanovski said. “I think it’s going to be a submission finish.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

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