For years, Volkanovski has hinted towards a future pursuit of champ-champ status. And as his dominance at 145 pounds, where he’s currently unbeaten in the UFC, has continued, the Australian has stepped up his calls for a superfight.
That desire appeared to reach fever pitch post-UFC 276, where Volkanovski dismantled longtime rival Max Holloway in a five-round masterclass. And despite going under the knife for hand surgery soon after, “The Great” recovered in time to serve as the official backup fighter for the lightweight championship headliner at UFC 280 last weekend.
Following Islam Makhachev‘s crowning, Volkanovski was challenged to a champion vs. champion bout at UFC 284, set for Perth, Australia, next February. After entering the Octagon to accept the callout, the featherweight king looks set to have his shot at achieving membership to the prestigious two-division titleholder club.
While Volkanovski has insisted that he plans on ruling over both the lightweight and featherweight divisions should he dethrone the Russian, some aren’t convinced and have suggested that the champion is holding up the 145-pound weight class with his move up.
For Volkanovski, though, the reality is in fact the opposite…
Volkanovski: ‘Featherweights Are Holding Me Up’
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, Volkanovski was asked about those who doubt his ability to remain active across two weight classes, as well as criticism from those in his longtime division.
At featherweight, the title picture has appeared to contain two leading names in recent times — Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez. While the former entered the conversation with a narrow victory over Calvin Kattar at UFC Austin, the Mexican joined him after Brian Ortega’s dislocated shoulder saw him have his hand raised at UFC Long Island.
But for Volkanovski, neither man has made a firm case. And with them appearing to be content on awaiting a shot, “The Great” believes he’s the one being held up by the contenders, not vice versa.
“If I’m gonna keep anyone waiting, I’ll keep the people that are waiting for a title shot. They can wait,” Volkanovski said. “I don’t wanna hold up any divisions, but like I’ve said, I feel like my division is holding me up, otherwise I would’ve fought already. Even with a broken hand, you’d have seen me fighting this year most likely.”
Turning his attention to the skepticism about his plans to keep two belts active, Volkanovski cited his quick turnaround from surgery to backup fighter in Abu Dhabi as evidence that he’ll be willing to enter the Octagon every few months.
“You think I’d fight every three months (to keep both divisions active)? Have I not proven that I would? I just put myself in a position that I know no one else would,” Volkanovski noted. “Let’s remember, I was willing to fight anybody, whoever I had to, [at UFC 280] after a surgery on my hand. How much more do I have to prove it?
“I’ve proved that I’m gonna be active. I want to fight every few months. I didn’t put myself in position to make sure I lock myself in (for a lightweight shot) for no reason. There’s a reason, I don’t want to wait around,” Volkanovski added. “I want to be active. I’m in my peak right now.”
While Rodriguez and Emmett believe they’re deserving of meeting the champ in the Octagon following his likely lightweight challenge, Arnold Allen just strengthened his own argument after defeating Calvin Kattar in the UFC Vegas 63 main event.
Do you agree with Alexander Volkanovski?
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