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Alexander Volkanovski plans to clean out featherweight division, jump to lightweight

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UFC 232 Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski still has work to do at 145 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped the Aussie from setting his sights on bigger and better things, like the promotion's lightweight division.

“I want to be the best fighter there is, and that is a goal of mine and to do so I want to move up and fight [at lightweight] as well,” Volkanovski told ESPN. “But again, I’ve got a division that I want to take out, I want to be the best the featherweights have seen, so I want a couple of defenses here. But I definitely want to squeeze in a lightweight fight as well.”

Volkanovski (22-1) captured the featherweight crown by turning away Max Holloway at UFC 245, then retained the belt in a narrow decision win in their UFC 251 rematch. That said, Brian Ortega and Zabit Magomedsharipov are two major hurdles that need to be cleared before lightweight becomes an option.

“People will say that I’m all hype or I got lucky because they don’t understand the skill; so of course you’re going to get people that will say I can’t handle myself in lightweight,” Volkanovski continued. “But I don’t worry about them, because people that know the game, especially my opponents, they know where my level is, and I’ve trained with guys much bigger than me and I still do and I always have. So I know how I’d do against some of the best lightweights in the world anyway, even the best welterweights.”

A featherweight champion who claims he can bang with welterweights? I’m sure I’ve heard this somewhere before ...