Alexander Volkanovski showed tremendous heart during his unanimous decision win to retain his featherweight title at UFC 266 but feels he could’ve easily been awarded a stoppage win heading into the championship rounds.
After the third round of Saturday’s main event against Brian Ortega — one of the best rounds of the year where both fighters were very close to ending the fight — Volkanovski had a lot of momentum with getting out of a pair of dangerous submissions and nearly ending things with strikes on top.
As Ortega got to his feet to start the fourth, referee Herb Dean and the cage side doctor were asking the challenger a series of questions to see if the challenger was good to go. That process seemed to take longer than usual, which seemed to irk Volkanovski.
Speaking at the UFC 266 post-fight press conference, Volkanovski recounted what he saw from the opposite corner.
“I thought he was broken after the third round,” Volkanovski told reporters. “The ref decided to give him a minute to ask him questions, he wasn’t answering them right — I’m telling you because I was looking — and he was, ‘Look this way,’ and he was looking completely the other way and ‘Do this, do that.’ He answered every question wrong and they waited until they answered [something] right and then, ‘Let’s get into it.’
“I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ They gave him an extra minute and I was looking at his eyes and he literally couldn’t see what was going on. That’s it. It’s over. Then I go back in there, put pressure, and he’s firing back just like he was like nothing happened. He’s tough, he’s durable and credit to him.”
Once the horn sounded to end the third round, Ortega laid almost motionless on the mat after absorbing a flurry of punishing strikes. Seconds later, Ortega’s coaches were shown lifting the jiu-jitsu specialist off the mat and onto his stool — something Volkanovski didn’t notice during the craziness of his second successful title defense.
“I didn’t know about that,” Volkanovski told reporters. “But that’s not allowed. You literally can’t touch them. That’s considered a TKO.
“I’m gonna claim it. Dana, we’re gonna claim it.”