At UFC 273, Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight title with one of the best performances of his career, dominating the Korean Zombie before stopping him in the fourth round. Following the win, Cejudo stated that he would be re-enrolling in the USADA testing pool so he could officially end his retirement and pursue a fight with Volkanovski. But just because Cejudo says he’s coming back, doesn’t mean the champ is interested. At least not yet.
“I’ll take him serious — once he’s in the pool,” Volkanovski told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “You obviously can take him serious [then], but he still needs to prove himself in our division.”
Volkanovski has reason to doubt Cejudo. The Olympic gold medalist has repeated angled for a fight with Volkanovski over the past year, including earlier this year when Max Holloway was forced out of their scheduled title fight, and Cejudo campaigned strongly for the chance to step in, despite being officially retired and ineligible to compete, per the UFC’s rules with USADA. That incident makes Volkanovski skeptical of Cejudo’s real intentions.
“I respect the guy. Obviously he does his thing and all that. I don’t hate the guy. He’s got a lot of great accomplishments and I respect him as a fighter and as an athlete, but at the same time, how long has he been calling me out?” Volkanovski said. “He was giving Zombie s*** about getting the fight... and then all of a sudden he’s in his corner. I was like, mate, Zombie, he was pretty much bagging you, but now he’s jumping on the bandwagon to get a bit of attention. And he wasn’t even in the testing pool but he was sitting there and couldn’t believe I didn’t choose him. Mate, you know you can’t even fight, why are you wasting your breath, and why should I waste my breath on it? So that’s why I don’t take it too serious.”
For his part, Cejudo does appear to be serious about a return. “Triple C” has allegedly followed through on his plans to return to the USADA testing pool, and remains adamant that he can be the main to defeat Volkanovski. He does, however, still seem to be intent on getting an immediate title shot, instead of fighting someone else, a scenario UFC President Dana White has not seemed interested in. And given that, Volkanovski is unfazed by Cejudo’s proclamations.
“That’s what I mean. Why am I gonna waste energy?” Volkanovski said. “I probably can right now because we don’t have a clear guy that it’s gonna be, so maybe that’s why you’re asking and I’m even talking about it, I guess. But again, I’m not gonna take it too serious.”
Instead, Volkanovski is focused on his own battles with Dana White. Following UFC 273, White shot down the idea of the UFC returning to Australia any time soon due to the complications that COVID may present, but Volkanovski hopes he can change White’s mind.
“I’m comfortable and confident enough to at least have that conversation with him, where before I wouldn’t be. I’d just stay right out of it. But I’m gonna at least talk to him. Let’s try and figure this out because they love bringing the UFC to Australia, we sell out arenas every single time, it’s massive over there, and you’ve got a champion that hasn’t defended his belt in his own country yet...
“Just let me defend my belt in Australia. It’s that simple. That’s all the really matters.”