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  Debate

Debate

Can Islam Makhachev handle Leon Edwards' striking, or will his weaknesses be his downfall?

Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos has been with the UFC since 2008. The Brazilian holds the highest cumulative fight time in the UFC at nine hours, having fought a lot of the top lightweight and welterweight contenders. He was even on the cusp of becoming a double champion, having faced (and lost a unanimous decision to) Colby Covington for the interim 170-pound title. With all his experience at moving up and fighting at 170 under his belt, it is worth examining his opinion on lightweight champ Islam Makhachev moving up to welterweight.

‘RDA’ thinks size disadvantage would be too much for Islam Makhachev at 170

Islam Makhachev made his third lightweight title defense at UFC 302 against the legendary Dustin Poirier last month. With this, he has equaled the record for the most 155-pound title defenses. Not only does Makhachev want to make history by breaking this record but he also also wants to be a double champion.

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The Dagestani has been calling for a shot at welterweight champion Leon Edwards since early last year, wanting to relive the euphoria and high of winning a title for the first time once. RDA joined Submission Radio for an interview, where he was asked what he made of the prospects of a potential Islam Makhachev vs. Leon Edwards bout at 170.

Poll of the day

What do you think is Islam Makhachev's biggest shortcoming?

Striking skills

Cardio

Fight IQ

Ground game

The former champ pointed out the obvious size difference between the two champions and felt it would probably be too much for Makhachev to overcome. ‘RDA’ clarified that he felt the size would be a decisive factor in a potential Edwards-Makhachev bout since Dustin Poirier, who started in the featherweight division was able to nearly go the distance with Makhachev at UFC 302.

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“When you move up and go straight for the title, of course, you have a bigger chance to become a champion. But I don’t think Islam, is in a very good momentum right now, but I don’t think he can beat Leon Edwards and become a double champ… I just think like the size difference. Leon uh is a much bigger guy. And we see smaller guys like Poirier giving Islam a lot of trouble,” Rafael dos Anjos said.

For now, however, both Makhachev and ‘Rocky’ are gearing up to defend their respective titles against dangerous contenders.

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Edwards and Makhachev are set to defend titles soon

Leon Edwards will defend his title against #2 ranked welterweight, Belal Muhammad, who is on a ten-fight undefeated streak in the main event of UFC 304. Edwards will have the home advantage as the July 28 card is set to take place at the Co-op Arena in Manchester, England.

While the Englishman is the favorite going into the bout, Belal is an excellent grappler, and the matchup is a very real challenge to Edwards’ pure striking style of fighting.

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And while Islam Makhachev has a more favorable matchup, going up against fellow grappler Arman Tsarukyan next, the Armenian is as dangerous on the feet as he proved against Beneil Dariush last year. While both have faced each other once before in the octagon, it was many moons ago, with a 22-year-old Tsarukyan making his UFC debut.

Makhachev, undoubtedly, has plans to become a two-division champion, but a rematch against Tsarukyan will test all his experience, as the Armenian has improved by leaps and bounds since their last fight.