Islam Makhachev: ‘Everyone Will Understand My Level’

“Many things have changed, of course, but I’m still focused, I’m still training hard because everybody wants to take my belt,” began the standout from Dagestan. “I just keep doing my job and training.

“After the last fight, we changed not many things; just a couple things on the ground,” continued Makhachev, who turns 32 just six days after this weekend’s event and enters the contest on a 12-fight winning streak that includes seven finishes. “We worked striking on how Volkanovski closes the distance.

“Only a couple things we changed, and you will see it all in the Octagon.

Order UFC 294: Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2

On his way to the title and into his initial encounter with Volkanovski earlier this year, there was a playfulness to Makhachev in interviews.

While not the most talkative athlete on the roster by any stretch, the confidence and assuredness he had in regard to his skills and forthcoming victory resonated in his words. There was a lightness to his interviews and answers; his personal remix of the winking bravado his current head coach, former lightweight ruler Khabib Nurmagomedov, brought to his pre-fight interactions.

But that has vanished ahead of this fight, with the champion keeping things short, sharp, and all business heading into UFC 294.

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