Eugene Bareman believes Alexander Volkanovski cemented himself as the best fighter in the world at UFC 276, regardless of weight class.
This past weekend, Volkanovski turned in a virtuoso performance in his trilogy bout with Max Holloway, shutting the former champion out over five rounds. The performance was so good that even Volkanovski’s own coaches were not anticipating that level of dominance, and now, head coach Eugene Bareman believes “The Great” has cemented himself as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
“Oh man, I’m lost for words, man,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “Like, it’s just… the team, me, Joe, Alex, the coaches, we talked about a masterclass, about just cementing, solidifying every round and just being convincing. S***, I didn’t know he’d be that convincing. I didn’t know that. As much as I’ve gotten to know Alex over the years, the guy could still have a performance like that and still leave me gob-smacked. I’m like, wow. Just when you think he’s good and he’s at his best, he finds another level. And just, what a masterclass. Like, respectfully, if that’s not the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, then I don’t know who is.”
That’s high praise from a man who also coaches Israel Adesanya, the No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, who also won dominantly on Saturday, taking a similarly wide unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier. But Bareman is not alone in his beliefs, with numerous fans, and even Holloway himself now arguing the same. It’s a stark shift from just a few weeks ago when there was still a contingent of MMA fans who believed Holloway was the rightful featherweight champion, which Bareman says is because, after this past weekend, Volkanovski can no longer be denied.
“He’s the best on the planet,” Bareman said. “He was the best after the first fight with Max. Max was the best, and then we beat him. And then people still didn’t – there was still some doubters. And then the second fight was close, but we still won. And then there was still some doubters. I was never in doubt. I knew Alex was the better fighter from the start. I didn’t think we had to have the second fight. I definitely didn’t think we needed the third fight to prove that. Now, it’s not important to me, it’s not important to me, but it does get important to Alex and it does get important to the team. Recognize what he is. He’s the best featherweight in the world. He’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now. And if you can’t see that, if you can’t see that, then I’m not gonna insult you, then you need to learn more about his sport and understand this sport better and just get into the sport more. But that’s what I would like for people to walk away from this performance with. That’s the best fighter on the planet at this very moment.”
Volkanovski is currently the No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world, though that could change when the latest rankings are released next week.