Alexander Volkanovski is the epitome of a fighting champion, and the Australian proved that fact once again when chatting about his likely options moving forward in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Defending champion Volkanovski will look to unify the UFC’s featherweight titles when he faces interim champ Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 on July 8 in Las Vegas. And, the topic of what could potentially be next if he wins was discussed when he appeared on DC & RC, where he chatted with Daniel Cormier and Ryan Clark about the challenges that could await in the future.
One prominent name that cropped up during the discussion was that of Ilia Topuria. The undefeated Spanish-Georgian contender defeated Josh Emmett in fine style in his last outing, then called for a title shot, saying he hoped Volkanovski held on to his title so he could be the one to dethrone him.
Volkanovski has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and his comments suggested he’d relish a clash with Topuria a little further down the line.
“I’m hearing a lot of people mentioning other guys and fighting other guys, Ilia (Topuria) fighting other guys. I’m like, ‘No. Don’t do it! Just give me a guy. Give me a contender,’ he said.
“To be honest, again, I’m not going to say too much. Obviously I think he’s a good fighter. But the more I speak, the less I’m going to hype up the fight. So again, I think he’s great.”
With Amanda Nunes’ recent retirement from the sport, Volkanovski now stands as the longest-reigning active UFC champion, and despite taking a trip up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev for the 155-pound title in a fight some believe he won, the Aussie appears to have no interest in letting the next generation take over from him at the top of the 145-pound class.
“I want (top) guys. I wanted to be active. I was at a stage where I was like, ‘Give me No. 1 guys, give me No. 1 guys,'” he said.
“We’ve sort of cleared them, we don’t have them. So everybody’s raving on about this guy (Topuria).
“I’ve got Yair to worry about. I’ll worry about that first, because I see him as a much bigger threat than Ilia, so I’ll make sure I go out there and do my business. And then, if that’s on the cards, again, I want to be active. I do definitely want that rematch with Islam, I want that lightweight fight, I want to stay active.
“I’ve heard people mentioning Ilia fighting other guys, but we’ll see, we’ll see what the UFC says. For me, if people think he’s the next guy, bring it on. But I’ve got Yair to worry about.”
The loss to Makhachev was only Volkanovski’s second career loss, and snapped a 22-fight win streak that stretched back a decade. Clearly, the manner of the defeat still rankles him, and he seems determined to run it back and make amends.
“I think Islam, I think I’ve got his number,” he stated.
“I think he is that great of a fighter, he really is. Truly, a good fighter. But again, the work ethic and all the stuff I have, I have what it takes. I proved that I do, and next time I’ll do better.”