Even Alexander Volkanovski understands there are exceptions to the rules whenever Conor McGregor is involved.
Days ahead of his own opportunity to earn two-division champion status just like the Irish superstar accomplished back in 2016, Volkanovski commented on the news that McGregor is returning to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Chandler. When the show finishes airing, McGregor will then clash with Chandler in his first fight back in more than two years after suffering a devastating broken leg in his previous outing.
Despite McGregor boasting just a 1-3 record in his past four fights — including back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier — Volkanovski knows that drawing power and popularity will almost always warrant consideration when it comes to title contention in the UFC.
“Obviously, it’s always good to have Conor coming back to the sport,” Volkanovski said at UFC 284 media day. “He’s brings a lot of eyes. That will be a fun fight as well. I think it’s clever for both of them. Clever for Conor because he can go and fight, they’re both powerful dudes, obviously, it’s a winnable fight because they’re just going to go for it. It’s going to be entertaining.
“That just puts Conor right back in the conversation for the belt and all that type of stuff. For people to say he wouldn’t deserve it and there’s no way he’s going to do that, you’re pretty crazy, right? It’s Conor McGregor, and if he takes out someone like Chandler, you know his name is going to be mentioned. You know people are going to be talking about him.”
It’s hard to argue with Volkanovski’s logic given McGregor’s ability to always stay relevant in the title conversation, regardless of his recent résumé.
McGregor has yet to actually make any statement about coaching the upcoming season of the reality show or give his thoughts on facing someone like Chandler, who comes into the contest with four post-fight bonuses in five UFC appearances.
There are even rumors that McGregor’s return will take place at welterweight, but even that won’t dissuade Volkanovski from predicting that “The Notorious” could possibly earn a lightweight title shot with a win.
“At the end of the day, it is Conor McGregor,” Volkanovski said. “When you pull in those types of numbers — and you’ve got to remember, he is always taking on the good guys as well, the good fighters, so he’s always stepping up and taking on dangerous fighters.
“It’s at 170, it’s not the lightweight division. If it was anyone else, I’d say there’s no way, right? It’s pretty obvious how it goes down. I’m not really saying anything that anyone should be surprised about.”
If Volkanovski can get through Islam Makhachev on Saturday and become a two-division UFC champion, he might end up being the beneficiary of a future showdown with McGregor.
Volkanovski obviously is open to that option, but none of it will even be possible if he doesn’t become lightweight champion first.
“It’s interesting,” Volkanovski said. “It’s good to look at because I plan on taking that lightweight belt and I’m looking at seeing what’s happening in the division. There’s a lot of potential matchups after this one, but obviously first I’ve got to worry about what’s in front of me.”