Alexander Volkanovski is gearing up for his lightweight title shot.
Next month, at UFC 284, Volkanovski challenges Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title. It’s a bout between the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and the first one of Volkanovski’s UFC career where he is a sizable underdog, but as the fight approaches, Volkanovski wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love that,” Volkanovski said on Israel Adesanya’s YouTube page. “Everyone says that, ‘I love being the underdog,’ but I do. That’s the challenge, being the underdog, proving the doubters and the haters, all that type of stuff — I don’t let it really get to me, but I let it get to me enough where I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m going to train a little bit harder, I’m going to shut these guys up, and I’m going to go out there and do it.’ It makes me want those fights. Those are fights that I want. I feel like in the featherweight division I was trying to find which fight that was going to be and then this lightweight thing came and that’s what I wanted. I’m glad I did it because it’s already made me such a better fighter.
“The fact that I’m moving up, doing the bulking, telling myself we need to get stronger, we need to work on that takedown defense, all of a sudden I’m twice as strong as I was. My defense is just on point. I’m like an absolute brick wall when people are trying to run into me and they feel it, they instantly feel it as soon as they grab ahold of me or we grab each other. They can already significantly see the strength, so it just makes you think where I go from here.”
Volkanovski has been angling for a lightweight title shot for some time now, even serving as the backup fighter for the UFC 280 title fight between Makhachev and Charles Oliveira. After Makhachev won the belt, the new champion immediately called out the featherweight king, setting up this superfight, and Volkanovski believes that was in part because Makhachev views him as an easy target.
“I’m f****** tiny. I’ve always been short,” Volkanovski said. “That’s just how it is. Even the featherweights are taller than me. But you can see in his face like, ‘This guy ain’t too big.’ I’ve seen that on plenty of people’s faces. I’ve seen that on my previous fights. My last four, five fights, but that face quickly changes when I’m in the octagon. Give me 10 seconds with him, that face changes real quick. All of a sudden that size doesn’t matter, all of a sudden my footwork, ‘Where’s this guy at? I’m in a puzzle, he’s already giving drama.’ Then I put my hands on him, there’s another problem. Then they try to grab ahold of me and I’m a little brick f****** wall, there’s another problem. That’s when you see them start to crumble and be like, ‘F***, what have I got myself into?’ That’s exactly what’s going to happen with Islam, especially the way he’s looking. I can tell he really thinks he’s going to be way too strong.”
Volkanovski has plenty of reasons to be confident. With an overall career record of 25-1, the UFC featherweight champion has not lost a fight in almost 10 years, and that lone defeat came at welterweight in his fourth professional fight. Volkanovski’s long winning streak is due in large part to his adaptability and multifaceted game, and come UFC 284, he believes those tools are going to serve him well against the more single-minded Makhachev.
“There’s so many layers to how many problems I can give you, and that’s the thing,” Volkanovski said. “People go, ‘Oh, this, this, and this.’ I’ve got one thing to worry about. People are talking about his strength and size, but I’m not too fussed about that. It’s grappling. It’s pretty obvious what he wants to do. He’s got a lot more things to worry about. Look, I’m not saying he can’t strike for s***. He’s calculated, he’s patient, he does things well, it works really well for his game, but when it comes to problems, he’s got a lot more problems to deal with. I’ve got one big problem. That grappling, it’s a big problem, but preparation is everything, and I’m doing the preparation. I’m doing what needs to be done.”
UFC 284 takes place Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
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The MMA Hour.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Is Tommy Fumbles doing it again?
Hold your horses. The man’s having a baby.— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) January 25, 2023
Conor coaching TUF?— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) January 26, 2023
Back and forth.
I WILL FIGHT ANYONE!— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) January 25, 2023
I TOO WILL FIGHT ANYONE— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) January 25, 2023
Also, god love him, but Gilbert is going to have to fight Shavkhat next.
Someone is getting this work soon!— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) January 26, 2023
Who should I fight next?— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) January 26, 2023
Quem deveria ser minha próxima luta?
So hard to get a fight these days… cowards hiding behind ranking— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) January 25, 2023
I like it!! @DustinPoirier do you? https://t.co/w8YCslH02y— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) January 25, 2023
Just some heavy hands , where it’s land it’s better that lazer hair removal, never grow hair again on the place #ufc #champ pic.twitter.com/kgdv90rj9j— Johnny Walker (@JohnnyWalker) January 25, 2023
Kyle Daukaus, who is no longer with the UFC after completing his contract.
“The road to success is always under construction, and you will need to drive through the towns of failure, adversity, self-doubt and critics to arrive at your destination of success.” #GOOD— Kyle Daukaus (@KyleDaukaus) January 26, 2023
Phil De Fries (22-6, 1 NC) vs. Todd Duffee (9-3, 1 NC); KSW 79, Feb. 25.
Juliana Miller (3-1) vs. Veronica Macedo (6-4-1); UFC 286, March 18.
Khonry Gracie (2-2) vs. David Pacheco (1-1); Bellator 293, March 31.
Aljamain Sterling (22-3) vs. Henry Cejudo (16-2); UFC 287, April 8.
Alexander Volkanovski has been a betting underdog only three times in his UFC career, the most recent of which was his first fight with Max Holloway, three years ago. Also, as an underdog those odds were +100, +110, +145. Just for reference.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow!
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