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Drew Dober Discusses ‘Avoidance Mindset,’ Keys to Beating Islam Makhachev



Nobody has managed to defeat Islam Makhachev in the past eight years, but one former opponent believes he now knows the key.

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Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Drew Dober faced the current champ at UFC 259 in March of 2021. Makhachev put on a dominant showing, notching over nine minutes of control time before submitting Dober with an arm triangle in the third round. Dober, who got back in the win column by knocking out Ricky Glenn this past weekend at UFC Fight Night 229, learned from the loss and, despite being best known himself as kickboxer with knockout power, believes he made a mistake in approaching their fight as a striker-versus-grappler affair.

According to Dober, several elite grapplers in the 155-pound division have the required skills to beat Makhachev—if they are willing to grapple with him. Dober believes Makhachev’s opponents need to stop focusing on staying on the feet and start wrestling the undefeated Dagestani. The 34-year-old recently told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour:

“I think the key to beating Islam is that you have to dismiss the idea that he’s such a strong wrestler. Like you gotta be in it. Like, next time I fight Islam, I’m wrestling. Like we’re wrestling, it’s happening and I might even get a takedown or two. And I think that’s what these lightweights need to do. You can’t really on this avoidance mindset, like we don’t do this, we do this. Like no. You go in there, [with him] at his best and push him there and then you can find it elsewhere.”

Makhachev is slated to defend his title in a rematch against former champ Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi. Asked if he had any tips for “do Bronx,” Dober added, “You gotta get in [Makhachev’s] face and not just in the striking department… You gotta gain space, you can’t wait for him to make a mistake cause he’s gonna stay in his lane. You gotta force him out of his box.”

Editor's note: This item originally stated that Makhachev was undefeated, which is factually incorrect. He lost to Adriano Martins via first-round knockout in 2013.
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