Alexander Volkanovski produced a brilliant performance to retain his UFC featherweight title in the main event of UFC 266, but his victory didn’t come without a major scare.
After bossing the opening two rounds against challenger Brian Ortega, Volkanovski found himself in big trouble when he was decked by a left hand, then caught in a deep guillotine choke.
How deep? Volkanovski recalled the moment during the post-fight press conference.
“It was deep. It was ‘Oh f**k, I’m about to lose the belt’ deep,” he admitted.
“That was as deep as it can get, no s**t. As deep as it could get. I remember I was making f**king weird noises.”
Incredibly, Volkanovski managed to escape the predicament, and then escaped again after getting caught almost immediately after in Ortega’s famed triangle choke.
The Australian admitted after the fight that Ortega had exceeded his expectations during the course of their five-round fight, which saw Volkanovski earn scores of 49-46, 50-45, 50-44 to claim a unanimous decision victory and extend his undefeated record in the UFC octagon to 10 fights.
But he also hinted at his displeasure at how Ortega was allowed additional time to recover after a punishing end to the third round, as a lengthy inspection from the doctor to a clearly dazed Ortega allowed the challenger time to gather himself before the championship rounds.
“I thought he was broken after the third round,” Volkanovski explained.
“The ref decided to give him a minute to ask him questions, he wasn’t answering them right.
“I’m telling you because I was looking — and he was, ‘Look this way,’ and he was looking completely the other way and ‘Do this, do that.’ He answered every question wrong and they waited until they answered right and then, ‘Let’s get into it.’
“I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ They gave him an extra minute and I was looking at his eyes and he literally couldn’t see what was going on. That’s it. It’s over.
“Then I go back in there, put pressure, and he’s firing back just like he was like nothing happened. He’s tough, he’s durable and credit to him.”
Now, with his overall undefeated streak standing at 20 fights, Volkanovski said he’s set to sit down with his team and his family to work out his next move, with the possibility of staying in the United States a possibility to avoid the stringent quarantine measures back home.
“We’re gonna talk to the family, talk to the team, and see what’s our best move,” he said.
“Maybe we ride it out here, just smash some fights out, everyone just build everything up and kick some ass.”