UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has detailed his struggles when not competing regularly, after his loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 294.
Following the first round defeat, the 35-year-old addressed the media and opened up about the main reason behind taking the fight on such short notice, admitting that the money was not the driving factor. He said:
“A lot of people will say it’s for the money and all that, but, you know, it was much more than that. It is hard, like it really is hard, for athletes.”
“I never thought I’d struggle with it, but I mean, for some reason when I wasn’t fighting or in camp… sorry… I was just doing my head in. I needed a fight and then this opportunity come up. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t training as much as I should have, but I thought I had to do it. I had to take it. I thought it would be, I’m telling myself, ‘It’s meant to be.’ Obviously, I was struggling a little bit not fighting, doing my head in. I don’t know how. Everything’s fine, I’ve got a beautiful family.”
“I think you just need to keep busy. So that’s why I just ask the UFC to, you know, keep me busy, I need to be keeping busy, I need to be in camp, otherwise, I’m going to do my head in. So, that’s it. I’ll leave it at that.”
The increasingly emotional Volkanovski then further divulged he does not fully understand the reasons behind his emotions and feelings.
“I don’t know, it’s weird. I never believed, not believed in that stuff, I never got it.”
“It was something that, you know, maybe the more and more I learn about it, the more and more I understand. I don’t know, it was different. You know, it was a decision I chose. You know, I talked about us having a smile on my face, me and my wife. My wife, obviously, my wife could see, you know it does get hard. I don’t know why, you know what I mean. I think it was just so much going on with obviously the surgery and then the baby, and then I just needed to get in camp. And then this fight comes up, and I’m like ‘it’s meant to be – let’s do it.’ So, I thought that was what it was but maybe it was just a silly decision under the circumstances.”
Clearly keen to keep active, attention turned to January, in which he is slated to face Ilia Topuria for the featherweight strap. Volkanovski delivered a clear and concise message. He said:
“I need it.”
“Like I said, I need to be busy. Again, I think my main purpose is obviously family and fighting and when I am not fighting, I feel like I’m not ticking all of the boxes; I need to be ticking the boxes. I don’t like wasting time so I’ve talked to my manager before this and like, you know, we need to keep me busy. It’s weird, I’ve never… to be honest, it has never really happened. Maybe it was just with the newborn and the surgery and that. Again, this ain’t an excuse, I thought I could come in and be like, anyone that could do this on 11 days notice I do believe that I am that guy. But maybe I will choose a different opponent, or a better opponent to be doing that too!”
On the defeat, Volkanovski did not have an awful lot to say, giving props to Makhachev: “He caught me good. I haven’t properly watched it back but, you know, it got me. Went straight over he went nice and high even though I was shelling, so maybe it was something they were planning, so credit to him.”
“I felt strong in there, but obviously I’ve been telling you I obviously want to put some hands on him and whatnot. I wanted to pull the trigger, but I don’t know, it just felt a little weird in there, I just felt that little bit hesitant, which I didn’t expect. It was like I was waiting for something. I was like, ‘I’m going to go, I’m going to go,’ and then he got me.”
“I’m not going to sit there and make excuses. I’m a big believer in preparation and stuff like that, I back myself so that’s the decision I made – you know what I mean. I could have made better decisions. He’s not somebody you should be taking a short-notice with, but I needed it.”
By Jake Smith.