The unbeaten Ilia Topuria says that his title fight against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski that headlines this month’s UFC 298 card is little more than a formality.
The 27-year-old, unbeaten in 14 professional bouts (with six of those taking place in the UFC’s cage), will seek to score his biggest career win against 145-pound icon Volkanovski on February 17 in Anaheim, California. And despite the Australian being near faultless at 145-pounds, Topuria predicts that the champion won’t have an answer to the questions he will pose.
“It’s going to be a first-round knockout. You will see,” Topuria said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, via MMA Fighting.
“He’s saying a lot of bullsh*t, ‘There’s levels, I have this and I have that, dah, dah, dah.’ You’re right, there are levels. There are levels, then there is me. I’m going to show you where the levels are. I’m going to dominate him everywhere. I’m going to make him look like a punching bag. You will see. I will be dancing Feb. 17.”
Volkanovski will enter the fight having lost two of this past three fights — both at lightweight to champion Islam Makhachev — and Topuria suggests that the evidence later this month will show that the 35-year-old champ is on the wane.
“You are talking to the best fighter in the world,” he said. “I’m the best. He is one of the best. You have to give him his credit. He was a great champion, he was pound-for-pound No. 1. He was one of the greatest, without any doubt. One of the greats in the featherweight division, and he will always be remembered like that, like one of the greatest in this division.
“And I’m happy to be the man who is going to give him the bad news on Feb. 17: He’s old. It’s time to move on. It’s time for the new generation. He’s old. He already lost. He has all the signals that he has to retire. He had his moments in this sport and now it’s time to move on. It’s time for the new blood, and I represent the new generation. I represent the evolution of mixed martial arts.”
And if, or rather when from Topuria’s perspective at least, he becomes the new titleholder at 145-pounds, he said that he doesn’t know the identity of his next opponent — but he knows who it won’t be.
“The way I’m going to beat him, they aren’t even going to ask me about a rematch,” Topuria said.