Alexander Volkanovski: “There’s No Clear Number One Contender Right Now.”
By Ross Markey
Recently crowned UFC featherweight champion, Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski will face a spell on the sidelines as he recuperates and deals with a broken right hand.
During his absence, the Australian bruiser has called for the rest of the pack at 145-pounds to battle and produce a clear outlier.
The Eugene Bareman student displayed a tactically sound display on his way to a unanimous decision triumph over Max Holloway, chopping down the Hawaiin over five rounds at UFC 245 to claim the featherweight throne.
The incumbent division best faces some stiff competition on his return from injury, with Max Holloway vying for an immediate rematch, Chan Sung Jung eyeing a second title shot, and Brian Ortega always in the mix. With Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Yair Rodríguez closing in on title-contender status – Volkanovski has called for a clear number one contender at featherweight to present themselves. In a recent sit down with, Unibet, Volkanovski called for some 145-pound clarity.
“There are a lot of contenders, but my message to them is, go earn that number one spot. You know what I mean? There’s time, I’m on the sidelines here right now like, you know what I mean? I can’t go and fight, I’ve got a broken hand. So, there’s time. There’s no clear number, one contender, right now. There’s no clear one. Even, Max Holloway. People are saying ‘the rematch’, I believe I won convincingly. A lot of people believe that. If he (Max Holloway) really wants that rematch, while I’m on the sidelines, go take out someone, be that number one contender. So now is the time.”
For The New South Wales native, it was a tricky route to number one contender’s status. Before his eventual clash with Holloway, Volkanovski was paired with the gritty, Darren Elkins, former three-time title hopeful, Chad Mendes, and arguably, the division’s all-time greatest, José Aldo.
“I was the one who, fought Aldo in his home country in Brazil, not many people want to do that. I don’t think he’s lost there, I think he’s maybe lost a decision, I went a took it. I’m going to take these opportunities. I knew that was going to get me number one contender, so what do I do? I went there and got it done. Even when I was in Canada (fill-in for Holloway vs. Edgar), thirty-seven-hour trip barely could move after that.
“The weight cut was terrible, but I had to make sure no one else was going to take my spot. I don’t want to not go there, and then they get injured, or missed weight and someone else fills in and they get that title shot. Next minute they want to run back a title shot, and I’m sitting on the sidelines, I wasn’t going to let that happen. I was always sitting there like, I’m going to take every opportunity that is there so it doesn’t be given to someone else.”
“Go out there, have confidence in your abilities, go out take, whoever you think, whether it’s Zabit (Magomedsharipov) and Zombie (Chan Sung Jung) they want to fight for number one contender, and I’ll see them mid-year, let’s do it. I truly believe, again, you know what I’ve been saying. My post-fight speech, it was earned, not given. You got Zombie, he’s on a two-fight win streak and everyone’s trying to say his name (is the number one contender).
“Again, these are all guys I want to fight, I’m more than happy to fight, but go earn that spot. None of youse are clear number one contenders right now. Youse are all one fight away being a number one contender. Go make that fight happen, call someone now, whoever you think is number one contender or in line with you, take it, don’t let it be given to you. Go and take it, and then, no questions after that, you’ll be number one contender and I’ll see you soon.”