Alexander Volkanovski will likely be on the sideline for the remainder of 2022, but he eyes a hometown shot at gold awaiting him when ready.
Starting his title reign in Dec. 2019 with a unanimous decision nod over Max Holloway (watch highlights), Volkanovski and Hawaii’s finest ran things back a matter of months later. The rematch didn’t go as smoothly for “The Great,” finding himself needing to rally after two strong opening rounds for the former champion-turned challenger. Managing to do just that, Volkanovski kept his crown via an ultra-thin split decision (watch highlights).
At UFC 276 earlier this month (July 2, 2022), part three took place between the Featherweight legends and Volkanovski kept his record flawless, going up three wins to none with another unanimous decision (watch highlights).
“There’s a lot of biased bulls—t that I had to deal with,” Volkanovski told MMA Fighting on The MMA Hour. “Obviously, Max is a well-loved guy and some of the s—t that I had to deal with, even in that second fight, but after it, all of it. Obviously, you’re going to get your haters every time, but you can’t worry about that. But you know, there was a lot of bias everywhere. I’m not going to get into it. I don’t need to. I think people understand.
“Would you say I’ve been fairly treated as champ the whole time? From fans, UFC, anyone?” he asked. “It’s pretty easy to understand. A lot of people wouldn’t have wanted me to be champion. That’s why I looked at the camera and said, ‘What now? None of you can say s—t. Shut your mouth.’ So that was what it was about. And that was to a lot of people, not just fans. It wasn’t me angry, it was just like, ‘Now you can jump on board. Now you can act like you are all about it,’ when clearly a lot of them weren’t. Maybe it was a chip on my shoulder. That’s why I wanted that third fight for a long time.”
Unfortunately for Volkanovski, his last time out didn’t come without its setbacks as he suffered a broken hand that required surgery. Now, he’s unaware of exactly when he’ll be ready to return but has some ideas for what will be awaiting him.
Top competitors in the division, Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez, appear to be the two most likely candidates to fight over the clear No. 1 contender spot — perhaps with an interim crown included. Even before his most recent title defense, however, Volkanovski has played with the idea of moving up and trying to claim Lightweight gold.
“Right now, I feel like I’m in a position where I can call the shots, and I can have those conversations that I didn’t feel like I could have before, when now I can,” Volkanovski said. “Now I’m getting that respect from everyone, which I think is deserved.
“The winner in Australia, why not?” he continued. “I think some of them might sit there and be like, ‘Oh, why should we fight over there?’ Listen, I deserve it. Pretty much every single one of my fights has been overseas. I’ve defended all of my belts not on home territory this whole time. So I’m sure whoever wins the belt, they can miss out here and there as well. So we’ll see. At the end of the day, I’m the type of guy, I’ll fight anywhere – I just think we deserve to fight here.”
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