Islam Makhachev has yet to meet his match on the pitch.
To win Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight gold, Makhachev defeated the promotion’s greatest submission threat of all time, Charles Oliveira. If anyone was submitted in the highly anticipated match, fans expected it to be Makhachev who was instead the one to score the second round arm triangle choke to win (see highlights).
Among the absolute best submission artists on the planet is Australian Craig Jones who holds numerous world titles in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and is known for his famous ankle lock and heel hook submissions. Jones also worked with Makhachev’s first title challenger, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, and is honest about the quality of the Samboist.
“Honestly, I agree when Makhachev says a lot of people deserve to have their black belts taken away from them,” Jones said (h/t @Sa_Gwang on Twitter). “I kind of agree with that. I think what these guys are doing is kind of superior to what we’ve been doing for a long time. Because we build the whole sport around the concession of the lower position.
“I’m not one of those guys who says we should fight people who hit us, but I think we should fight like the best guy knows how to pass and pin,” he added. “A lot of guys don’t mind being on the bottom because they’ve never rolled with a guy who knows how to pass guard or pin someone. So they don’t know how tiring and horrible it is.
Volkanovski hasn’t been known for incredible submission play throughout his impressive career, but he survived a few scares and had success with his own wrestling. Jones notes that he strives to get better at smothering opponents when he’s in space, pointing out that Volkanovski is already pretty good at standing up against the fence.
In all likelihood, the 145-pound pivot will be on his back at least once when colliding with Makhachev at UFC 284 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia.
“Everyone thinks they’re good at guard until they meet a guy who can get through really well,” Jones said. “And then all of a sudden they think, ‘S—t. I’d rather be up, I’d rather be on top. But they don’t know how to get there and if they do, they don’t know how to hold somebody back.
“I think Makhachev’s grappling is superior to what a lot of traditional jiu-jitsu guys do,” he continued. “Because they don’t know how to hold someone back. They have no idea how to do it. So we really have to reverse engineer what Makhachev is doing which is what I tried to do up top and then I’m trying to teach these guys how to do it so I can practice doing it do down.
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