UFC champ Volkanovski out to prove doubters wrong

MANILA, Philippines – Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski is out to prove he deserves to be on the throne of his division.

The reigning UFC featherweight titlist (21-1) will defend his crown for the first time in a rematch against former champion and No.1 contender Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway (21-5) in UFC 251 on Sunday, July 12 (Manila time) in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Volkanovski won the first matchup against Holloway in December via unanimous decision to take the belt.

Despite the victory, the Australian fighter said he has more to prove to be recognized as the best in the division.

“There are people who still doubt me,” Volkanovski said during the UFC virtual media day. 

“There’s still a lot of people that think Max can take [the title] away from me. I wanna leave no doubt in anybody’s mind.

“To be the best, you have to beat the best, and some people think Max is still the best. He’s not and I’m gonna prove that this weekend.”

The 31-year-old champion has been dominating inside the cage for a long time – currently riding an 18-match winning streak and a perfect 8-0 UFC record. The last time he dropped a match was back in 2013.

Volkanovski believes that beating Holloway back-to-back will put him in the GOAT (greatest of all time) conversation for the featherweight division.

“I believe in my hard work and my skill and who I am as a competitor,” he said. “I know that I’m the best featherweight of all time, or will be, but I know I’m the best featherweight today so I’m gonna go out and prove that this weekend.”

Unlike other champions, though, Volkanovski said he’s not aiming to be a two-division champion, emphasizing he has no intention to put the 145lb division on hold.

“I get why people wanted to do that, but again, that’s not what it’s all about,” said Volkanovski.

“I want to be an active champion. If I’m fighting the No.1 contender and I got a room to fit in a lightweight fight to get the champ-champ status, as long as I’m not holding my division up, I’m all for it. If the opportunity comes, I’m all for it, but I’m not going in to chase it.”

Ridiculous

Holloway had revealed he had a different approach in preparing for the upcoming title match – by taking his training camp on Zoom calls and completely dropping contact training.

But Volkanovski is not buying Holloway’s “ridiculous” narrative. (READ: UFC 251: 'I don’t need sparring,' says Holloway)

“You need that contact training,” he said. “Even me, I had 6 weeks of contact training. My team went out of their way to make that happen, went to the government to get an exception because contact training is important.

“Don’t get me wrong, I was keeping fit, I was staying in shape, staying strong. But to say that I’m fight fit and ready to fight for a title [without contact training], it’s just ridiculous.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t put himself in that position. I’m sure he wants his belt back and him having a training camp without any training partners doesn’t make sense. If that’s really the case, maybe he doesn’t really care,” he added.

Whether Holloway prepared or not, Volkanovski feels confident he can take down his challenger for the second time, saying he already has the American’s number.

“I had a broken hand [in the first fight], and I was still better. I’m not throwing shade, but I just have his number,” he said. 

“I am the best featherweight in the world. I proved that in December, and I’ll prove it again this weekend.”

The Volkanovski-Holloway title bout is part of the stacked main card of UFC 251, which starts at 10 am (10 pm ET), while the preliminary card kicks off at 8 am (8 pm ET). – Rappler.com