Deep down inside, Alexander Volkanovski knew he should have been fighting Max Holloway at UFC 240 on Saturday night but rather than sulk about it, he flew halfway around the world just to get a front row seat to watch the action unfold.
Holloway earned a unanimous decision victory over perennial contender Frankie Edgar to defend his featherweight title for the third consecutive time. Time and time again, Holloway made Edgar pay by using his long reach and active striking attack as he busted up the New Jersey native’s nose and had him in serious trouble a couple of times over the course of 25 minutes.
While Holloway ultimately earned a lopsided decision, Volkanovski believes the fight was much closer than the scores indicated.
“I actually thought that was a really close,” Volkanovski said following UFC 240 on pay-per-view telecast. “Sitting on the sidelines there, I thought it was a bit closer than what the judges scored, 50-45. I thought Frankie might have won some rounds. Definitely competitive I thought.
“There was a lot of things that I thought would happen. I knew Frankie would be able to handle the pace when Max really wanted to pour it on. He always had that instinct to shoot, to slow it down and make Max hesitate. Max really worked his jab really well and still really good on his distance. It was a good fight. I enjoyed it.”
Volkanovski has stated several times that he believes he’s a ‘nightmare’ matchup for Holloway and his conviction was only strengthened after watching the fight against Edgar unfold.
With a similar stature as Edgar in terms of height and reach, Volkanovski wouldn’t have many physical advantages over Holloway but he believes the way he approaches a fight against a taller opponent would be the difference.
“I’m actually comfortable a little bit out of range as well. I like to pick my times when to come in,” Volkanovski explained. “I’m very comfortable in the pocket as well. He likes to really pour it on and you’ve seen when he’s really in your face, really trying to suffocate you, and give you that claustrophobic feeling but Frankie didn’t really crumble there and I know I won’t and I know I can handle that pace and I know I’m very powerful.
“So if you want to come at me with that sort of game plan, I feel I’m pretty explosive and powerful. I feel I can do a lot more damage and again, I’ve got my wrestling background. Max is a true champion. I enjoy watching him fight but I want to get that fight. I want it.”
It’s hard to argue with Volkanovski’s logic considering the resume he’s amassed thus far in his UFC career.
He’s 7-0 overall with three knockouts on his resume but more importantly he finished former title contender Chad Mendes and then earned a unanimous decision victory over former champion Jose Aldo in his last performance.
That fight alone should answer any questions about Volkanovski’s legitimacy as a threat to Holloway’s title reign but he’s more than happy to prove it once he’s finally given the chance.
“Knockout power and I believe that I’m comfortable out of range as well,” Volkanovski revealed when asked what separates him from Holloway in a potential fight. “I feel Frankie really loves coming forward and just being in the pocket and staying there, which he started getting hit with a jab a few times where I’m more than happy to be outside the range, work my way in, stay in, work my angles, work the takedowns, keep him guessing.
“I just want to work my game and I believe I can do that.”
As far as the timing goes for the fight, Volkanovski wants to face Holloway at the upcoming UFC 243 card slated for Oct. 5 in his native Australia. The card will take place in a 60,000 seat stadium in Melbourne with the middleweight title unification bout headlining as Robert Whittaker faces off with Israel Adesanya.
Volkanovski would love nothing more than to join that card in the co-main event against Holloway and he’s hoping the featherweight champion will accept his challenge.
“It was a five-round fight but I still don’t think too much damage was in there. I’m believe he can turn it around or I’m hoping maybe,” Volkanovski said about Holloway. “In saying that, I guess it’s up to him but mate let’s fill out this 60,000 seat stadium.
“It would be a blockbuster event. We’d break records. For our part of the world it would be huge, I want to be a part of it. Hopefully, Max does, too. Let’s make it happen.”