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Javier Mendez: Islam Makhachev doesn’t need a finish to beat Dan Hooker, whereas Hooker does

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Javier Mendez: Islam Makhachev doesn’t need a finish to beat Dan Hooker, whereas Hooker does

The only way coach Javier Mendez sees Islam Makhachev losing to Dan Hooker is if he gets caught.

The head coach of American Kickboxing Academy is very high on his star student Makhachev (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and thinks he has “The Hangman’s” number wherever the fight goes.

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Makhachev faces short-notice replacement Hooker (21-10 MMA, 11-6 UFC) at UFC 267 on Oct. 30, and while Mendez lauds Hooker for his toughness, he doubts he’ll have an answer for Makhachev’s grappling.

“Islam is so good,” Mendez told Mike Swick on the “Real Quick with Mike Swick” podcast. “Islam can stand with him and do well there, and if potentially not even beating him, you know, he could potentially do that, but what’s the point, you know? He can’t hang with us on the ground. So why are we going to do something he can’t do? He can stand with us, and he can potentially beat us. Why are we going to stand? It’s no secret what we are going to do, and there’s no secret what they are going to do. Why would they want to take us down? To prove their ground? Go ahead, even if you did take him down, you are going to get reversed right away, and it just doesn’t work that way.”

“You know he’s going to try to stop the takedowns, try to catch us coming in with maybe a hook, knee up the middle or anything. I mean the guy is a warrior. He is a true warrior, and he is a true fighter and taking the fight on short notice. The guy talks what he does. He says, ‘I’ll fight anybody. Blah blah blah.’ Look, he is doing it.”

Hooker has made grapplers pay with his patented knees up the middle and slick standup in the past, but Mendez doesn’t think he’ll have too many chances on the feet before the fight hits the mat.

“I don’t see how it stays standup for very long at all,” Mendez said. “I think it goes down when Islam wants to take him down. He’s such a master at takedowns. Throws and everything. If he doesn’t take you in the wrestling, he’s gonna trip you, he’s gonna flip you, sweep you. There’s so many ways Islam can take you down.

“Dan is a really good fighter, so he has opportunities where he can catch Islam, but I’m just gonna say this, Dan has to knock Islam out to win, Islam doesn’t have to knock Dan out or submit Dan to win. He’s not gonna outstrike Islam. He’s not gonna out grapple Islam, but he could knock Islam out. That could happen. Anyone can do that.”

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Javier Mendez: Islam Makhachev doesn’t need a finish to beat Dan Hooker, whereas Hooker does