Alexander Volkanovski has already done a lot as the UFC featherweight champion, but where exactly does he rank among the all-time greats at 145 pounds?
That all adds up to a résumé that puts Volkanovski into a category all his own.
“I think he’s the GOAT. He is,” Jouban said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “He is so good. He’s beaten Max Holloway three times. Not a lot of people [have beaten Max], Dustin Poirier beat him twice. He beat Max Holloway, he’s beaten Jose Aldo. He’s starting to almost clean out the division, and with a win on Saturday night, I think he takes the place as GOAT.
“Can you say right now maybe he needs more title defenses or something? That could be an argument. Saturday night with a win, I think he takes that place in line.”
For all that Volkanovski has accomplished at featherweight, Jouban points specifically to his most recent fight at 155 pounds as further proof that he’s surpassed all of his past rivals.
Back in February, Volkanovski lost a razor-close decision to reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in his bid to claim a second division title. Even in defeat, Volkanovski gave Makhachev a tougher fight than anyone else in recent history, including ranked lightweights in the UFC.
In his opinion, Jouban couldn’t fathom anybody else doing that well against somebody as dominant as Makhachev, which only speaks to Volkanovski’s skills and abilities.
“Can you imagine any other [featherweight] going up and facing Islam?” Jouban said. “Can you imagine Max Holloway or Jose Aldo or anyone? Even in their prime, it doesn’t matter. Nobody. It’s going to be a bad night at the office. Nobody has done that to Islam at 155, much less the 145-pound division. Wrestled, beat him up, hurt him like that, it was such a tremendous performance.
“I do think Islam won, but it was three rounds to two type of thing, very, very close. Could have gone either way, but I understand Islam winning. Aside from his one loss he got caught early in the UFC, he has just dominated everyone. Then you have a guy like Volk come up, put it all on the line and do that well against him. That really opened my eyes to how good he is.”
The biggest argument against Volkanovski’s status as the best featherweight of all-time usually comes down to a comparison with Aldo, who was a seven-time defending champion before losing the belt in 2015.
Volkanovski will sit only two title defenses behind Aldo’s record with a win at UFC 290, and he’s also faced a murderer’s row at 145 pounds since arriving in the UFC.
With head-to-head wins over Aldo and Holloway in previous fights, Volkanovski has already taken out two former featherweight champs, and he’ll only add to his legendary status with a win over Rodriguez on Saturday.
“I’m such a Jose Aldo fan,” Jouban said. “Jose Aldo’s style of fighting was almost more pleasurable to watch. It was so technical and so sharp and he would slap on a submission as well. It was like watching Anderson Silva when he was just good everywhere and it’s pleasing to watch, but [Jose Aldo] also wasn’t fighting the caliber of competition consistently that we’re seeing from Volk.
“The way that [Volkanovski] beat Max Holloway and Max Holloway is still that guy, Volk is one higher. With a win on Saturday night, I think he is the GOAT.”