UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski intends to get back to business as usual at this weekend’s UFC 298 in Anaheim.
After a pair of unsuccessful bids to claim the UFC’s 155-pound championship from Islam Makhachev last year, Volkanovski returns once more to the weight class in which he made his name late on Saturday night, where he is tasked with becoming the first fighter to find a means to defeat surging contender Ilia Topuria who comes into the bout with a perfect 14-0 record.
But while no man has yet managed to navigate a path to victory against the unbeaten 27-year-old, Volkanovski says that not only will he underscore his status as the world’s best 145-pound fighter, he will do so by embarrassing his opponent in the cage in California.
“A clear contender for me to face in this featherweight division and Ilia is it, right? He was the next, it’s clear. They signed the date. I actually wanted him straight after Yair [Rodriguez]. I told him come jump the fence and get a face-off because he was undefeated. I didn’t want anyone else fighting him. I wanted to make sure I got a young, hungry undefeated guy that’s got hype around him.
“He likes to talk. So, it’s easy to get motivated for this, right? I need to do nothing to hype up this fight. Let him do the talking and I’ll do the walking February 17, 18 in Australia. Do work, humble him, and show the world again — remind them and let him know that he’s still got a way’s to go until he’s up at the top. I’m gonna show him that.”
And Volkanovski, who has never been defeated in a featherweight contest in his career, says that his path to victory will leave no doubt as to who the best in the world is.
“Prediction is I teach him a good lesson,” the Australian champion said. “He’s gonna be embarrassed, eat some of his words, and it’s gonna be maybe the start of his journey. He’s young, he is confident, I’ll humble him, he’ll bounce back and start after I give him a good beating. Round two, I think. I think I crumble him in the first.
“I’m not saying that he’s gonna be an easy fight, but I think just how confident he is, he hasn’t been able to prove that. I prove that every time I step in this gym. I push myself to the limits. I don’t know if he does. He doesn’t act like it so I’m gonna push him, and I think I crumble him inside one and I get the finish soon after that.”