Alexander Volkanovski is ready to claim his second divisional title.
UFC 280 provided and left fans around the globe with a great deal of intrigue in the Lightweight division. Islam Makhachev appears to have all the makings of a long-reigning champion, however, he’ll get one of the most difficult first title challengers a new champion has ever had.
Volkanovski acted as the Makhachev versus Charles Oliveira title fight backup this past weekend (Oct. 22, 2022). The Featherweight kingpin successfully made the 155-pound limit, but his services were not needed. Now, he’s likely to be the next in line in the heavier division, and Makhachev expressed immediately after the fight his willingness to make it happen in early 2023.
“I’m very, very hard to not only take down, but hold down,” Volkanovski said at the UFC 280 post-fight press conference (h/t MMA Junkie). “One thing I always say, especially these little short legs, they’re very easy to get back to my feet. That’s going to be one hard thing. Getting me down is going to be problem. If you do, I’m bouncing right back up and it’s going to be standup most of the way through. That’s how I see it. And you ain’t going to land on me like that. I don’t just stand in front of you. I come forward and I’m coming straight at you.
“Everyone thinks I’m short, and then I’m punching them in the face and their face changes real quick when I’m in front of him,” he continued. “It’s not an insult. I know I am. But I’m the champ. I’m doing good and I’m going to keep this winning streak going and I’m going to show him what short people can do when they know what they’re doing.”
Makhachev has primarily dominated his opposition throughout his career, using his impressive and smothering wrestling game. Similar to his mentor and former Lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev “smashed” in a similar fashion, defeating Oliveira via second round arm triangle to win the title (watch highlights).
Volkanovski is no stranger to the 155-pound division, but his return to it will be his first as a Lightweight since his promotional debut in Nov. 2016. “The Great” has gone undefeated in 11-fights as Featherweight’s best since.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Volkanovski said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not a challenge. But is it a challenge I can overcome and get through? 100 percent, I guarantee I can. I’m looking forward to doing that. I want to be the underdog, as well. I’m looking forward to people being like, ‘He’s not going to be able to handle the power. He’s going to get taken down. He’s not going to be able to get back up.’
“I can’t wait to — as the fight goes — just proving people wrong as each second goes by,” he concluded. “I love being the underdog. If people want to doubt me again, that’s beautiful.”
For complete UFC 280 results and coverage click here.