B-Team leader Craig Jones — who famously served as a member of the Volkanovski fight camp for UFC 284 — posted a YouTube video on B-Team’s channel earlier this week titled “There’s NO WAY Volk Lost That Fight: Craig’s Recap of Volkanovski vs Makhachev.”
Despite the cheeky title — and trademark nuggets of the B-Team star’s characteristically quippy humor — Jones delivered some thoughtful analysis of the fight itself. “Islam is an excellent freestyle wrestler — he has excellent throws as well, he combines the wrestling and the judo very well, which obviously a lot of Russians do,” said Jones.
“He does have very good pinning ability, but like I said previously, the guys that are going to be the best at pins are American folk-style wrestlers. Islam has freestyle wrestling, he has some sambo submissions, but again, sambo is not the best pure grappling art. Any time a sambo guy grapples a jiu-jitsu guy in a grappling setting, he gets submitted, time and time again. Jiu-jitsu is better at submissions than sambo — that’s a fact. That’s undeniable.”
To further illustrate his point, Jones referenced ONE Championship’s recent series of experiments in matching up the world’s best sambo stars against decorated jiu-jitsu black belts in submission-only grappling matches. “You saw the sambo guy just let his leg get broken by Mikey in a million different ways,” said Jones, of ONE flyweight champ Mikey Musumeci’s most recent title defense. “Back at Quintet — I think it was 2018 — we faced a sambo team, and I guess this might be a sambo thing, but that guy let me break his leg in a very horrible way.
“So I think we look at it in a pure grappling sense, a pure submission sense, [and] jiu-jitsu is far, far better than sambo. Obviously, sambo has the takedown skills that they take across to MMA, which is again, very impressive, but just like I was saying, Islam has excellent takedowns, pretty good submissions, but again, he’s not a folk-style wrestler. Folk-style wrestlers are very good at leg riding — they’re going to ride a guy from the turtle position; he’s not going to be able to get back up very well.”
As a result, Craig was confident that Volkanovski would be able to capitalize on that gap, and use the turtle position to find his feet again every time the lightweight champ took him down. “I was so confident Volkanovski would be able to get back up, we released the DVD before the fight,” said Craig, grinning, as he referenced his recent instructional Just Stand Up.
“Apart from round four, Volk was able to get back up every single time,” said Jones, who added, with a wide smile, “[Volk] demonstrated that rugby is a better base for MMA and grappling than sambo is, really. And he proved that in that fight.”
Check out the full video here.