UFC 259 Preview: Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober

UFC 259

UFC 259: Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober

Islam Makhachev has often been compared to his teammate, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Makhachev has been a long-time training partner and friend of the Eagle and is a Combat Sambo world champion, so Comparison to Nurmagomedov is unavoidable. Makhachev is currently on a six-fight winning streak and is a -380 favorite for this one. The twenty-nine-year-old Dagestani looks to keep his winning streak alive against Drew Dober at UFC 259 this Saturday. Drew Dober will be a substantial underdog in this bout, sitting at +315 as of right now. Dober has been a UFC fighter since 2013 and has stopped his last three with strikes. Dober is a former amateur Muay Thai champion and has stopped two of his last three fights in just over a minute each. Makhachev has a lot to prove Saturday and will have to do so against a skilled veteran of the sport. I expect a high pace throughout this one.

Drew Dober (23-9-1)

Strengths

Drew Dober is a former amateur Muay Thai champion and will look to keep this fight on the feet. He has finished two of his last three in under two minutes and has lots of power in his left hand. Dober seems to be the most dangerous in closed stance matchups and likes to pressure to get his opponent to come forward. Once he draws out his opponent, he steps his lead foot inside of his opponent’s and looks to land a huge left cross. Interestingly enough for a southpaw fighter himself, Dober is somewhat of a southpaw killer because of this tactic. Dober’s southpaw vs. southpaw tactics and KO power will likely give him a big advantage on the feet for this bout. If he can land early, I could see Dober playing foil to Makhachev’s rise.

Vulnerabilities

Dober has a high school wrestling background and holds a purple belt in BJJ. He isn’t the easiest to take down, but stopping Makhachev is a big ask for Dober or anyone else for that matter. It is worth noting that Dober has been submitted three times in his UFC career and is facing a world champion sambo fighter. While Dober is not a bad grappler, this is a significant mismatch on the ground because of his opponent’s skill. If the substantial underdog is in fact going to lose, it is likely going to happen on the ground.

Islam Makhachev (18-1)

Why he’s Favored at UFC 259?

One of the biggest stories of the loaded UFC 259 main card is, what will happen with Islam Makhachev. The Dagestani combat sambo world champion has been a longtime teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov and has been hailed as the future of the division. Makhachev is 18-1 as a pro and is on a six-fight winning streak. The heavy favorite has a good amount of power and is a dominant grappler who shows exotic wrestling looks. On the feet, Makhachev is a little wild. He stands southpaw and likes to drop his level suggesting takedown but throws an overhand left instead. Makhachev has a great system for killing posts when his opponents try to stand against the fence. In other words, when he takes someone down, they tend to stay there. Makhachev is a fast and athletic striker with the ability to move in and out quickly. He also uses a solid rear round-kick to keep some variety in his attacks.

Can he be Upset at UFC 259?

Makhachev is an incredibly talented fighter with a serious pedigree. He frequently draws comparisons to Khabib due to their association and shared penchant for smashing opponents on the ground. The former combat sambo champion is likely to win this fight, but he is facing a quality opponent who has KO power. I mentioned earlier that Dober is a southpaw killer, and Makhachev does happen to be a southpaw. I think Makhachev is likely to win this fight with his wrestling, but he is an aggressive southpaw… Dober may be able to draw him out and time a left to hurt him. I would not rule out an upset in this one.

Takeaway for UFC 259

Makhachev is currently a -380 favorite for his bout with Drew Dober (+315) and is likely to continue his winning streak. The Dagestani has steamrolled a long line of quality opponents and carries with him the pressure of a lot of hype due to his grappling abilities and Khabib Nurmagomedov connection. His opponent is a skilled striker who has a style well suited to counter Makhachev’s southpaw stance and aggressive forward movement. It is unlikely for Dober to be able to stop the high-level grappling attack of Makhachev, which is the likely justification for his status as such a heavy favorite. In fewer words, I expect this bout to go the distance and the Dagestani to get his hand raised, but there is a chance of an upset.

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