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Alexander Volkanovski doesn’t mind UFC making interim featherweight belt: ‘It will just make for a bigger fight’

Alexander Volkanovski isn’t bothered if the UFC creates an interim featherweight title.

This past weekend at UFC Long Island, Yair Rodriguez defeated Brian Ortega by first-round TKO when Ortega injured his shoulder during a grappling exchange. The strange outcome left the featherweight title picture up in the air, but afterward UFC president Dana White said the promotion may look to do an interim title fight between Rodriguez and Josh Emmett, while they wait for Volkanovski to recover from hand surgery. And the undisputed featherweight champion is perfectly OK with that.

“To be honest, I don’t mind the idea while I’m sitting here [injured],” Volkanovski said Monday on The MMA Hour. “There’s no clear — for that No. 1 contender, right? Let them fight for that No. 1 contender, because I think they both deserve it. They’re both in a position where they could get a shot. Are they screaming out where it needs to be them before everyone? No, not really. So let them fight for that No. 1 contender. If it’s for the interim belt and then we’ll fight, sweet. Because like I told you, I’m not lying when I say I want to be active. They can go do that, I’ll go do my thing, and I’m telling you, a couple months after that, get me back in there, I’ll do it.

“Perfect world for me, lightweight title early next year, and then if they do this interim thing, if that happens, it will just make for a bigger fight anyway, so I don’t mind,” Volkanovski continued. “And then you’ve got a clear No. 1 guy. Everyone’s going to be screaming their name, whoever wins between Josh Emmett and Rodriguez. And then they can both say they’re fighting for a belt, they can go there, and then when we fight it’s another big fight. So I don’t mind the idea, to be honest.”

Volkanovski may not mind the idea, but a certain segment of fans do not support it. With Volkanovski defending his title just a few weeks ago, some fans are arguing that creating an interim title now would diminish the champion’s belt, but Volkanovski doesn’t see it that way. As MMA Fighting’s top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Volkanovski believes creating an interim title will only serve to make his next bout that much bigger.

“No, why does that water down my title?” Volkanovski said. “I don’t think it does at all. Is anyone going to say that they’re the real champ? I don’t think so. Everyone’s going to look at me as the real champ either way. And if for some reason it does water it down and all of a sudden this guy’s getting all of this hype, it just makes my next fight even bigger with them. So either way, I’m still going to get the championship money, still getting the pay-per-views, so it doesn’t matter. If they want to hype up the fight however they want to do it, whatever. At the end of the day, I know I’m champ and everyone else does too.”

For Volkanovski, his openness towards an interim title stems from his desire to face true top contenders in his division. “The Great” has defended his belt four times, but two of those have come against former champion Max Holloway, in part because Holloway continued to win fights to put himself in position to challenge for the title.

That’s what Volkanovski wants from the other featherweight contenders right now.

“There’s so many guys that, yeah, they’ve had a winning streak and stuff, but let’s take out some top guys,” Volkanovski said.

“Again, I’m a nice dude. I understand. But at the same time, does that mean I’ve just got to hand out title fights to people that don’t deserve them? Where does that get me? No one’s going to care about them. Let them get people talking about them. Let everyone be screaming their name or saying, ‘He’s the guy!’ I could be in a room and ask 10 people and they’re all going to say someone different or say no one. So let’s get this No. 1 contender, especially while this [injury] is happening.

“Then when I’m asking that same 10 people in that room, we all know who the answer’s going to be: Whoever wins that fight. And that makes a lot of sense for me.”

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