Alexander Volkanovski reveals how Islam Makhachev became his No.1 target

UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski previews his upcoming superfight with Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.

The pair are set to face off for Makhachev's lightweight belt on 12 February at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, where Volkanovski aims to be the promotion's fifth simultaneous double champion.

The Australian has amassed a thoroughly impressive MMA record and is on a 22-win fright streak. After claiming the Featherweight belt with a victory over the mercurial Max Holloway in 2019, Volkanovski has successfully - and rather comfortably - defended his title four times.

Instead of lapping the division, Volkanovski has set his sights on something greater. Makhachev, the star pupil of the indomitable Khabib Nurmagomedov, was ruthless in his rise to the top of the lightweight division, finishing his last five fights.

Perhaps none were more impressive than the Dagastani's demolition of Charles Oliveira at UFC 280, where he smothered the UFC's most decorated submission artist to beat him at his own game.

For Volkanovski, that was the moment he put Makhachev firmly in his crosshairs…

"It's the Dagestani wrestling, no one can figure this out, they're on a roll and all that," he told Michael Bisping's Believe You Me podcast.

"Khabib's there. Islam, what he's been doing his last few fights. All that. I was chasing the champ-champ, that's what motivated me before I knew who I was fighting. As soon as Islam won and the people talked, something was just like, bang, that's all that I cared about... taking out Islam."

Love him or hate him, Volkanovski has been through the fire. He survived and overcame the divisions best striker, Holloway, on three occasions. In addition - and perhaps more relevant for the upcoming wrestlefest with Makhachev - Volkanovski pulled off his own version of The Great Escape, twice, in his clash with jiu-jitsu maestro Brian Ortega.

That said, Volkanovski is under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead.

"Do I think this is going to be easy? No," quipped the former rugby league player.

"Does it need a lot of preparation? Yeah, it does, definitely. It is a challenge. But just because it's a challenge, should I protect my record, protect this pound-for-pound spot, do all this? Nah.

"Seeing people, like, 'He's going to be too big, too strong,' and all this. The challenge, the opponent that I've got, that excites me more. Going for this champ-champ and taking out someone like Islam is really what people are going to remember. A lot of people think he's unstoppable right now, but I'm going to show you that he is stoppable and I can't wait to go out there and do my thing."

Time and time again, Volkanovski has been doubted. On fight night on 12 February, in front of tens of thousands of his fellow countrymen, the betting odds will once again be against him. But don't be surprised when you see his fist raised...

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