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Alexander Volkanovski on ‘vulnerable’ UFC 294 press conference: ‘It’s not weak to speak’

“The Great” opens up on his struggles leading into UFC 294 and feeling like it was a “stupid decision” to accept the Makhachev rematch on two weeks notice.

Alexander Volkanovski is opening up about his emotional state following a tough UFC 294 loss that saw him knocked out by Islam Makhachev in the first round just about two months ago in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (watch highlights).

Following that defeat, Volkanovski admitted to being in a tough place mentally coming into the fight. It was a rare glimpse of vulnerability in the man we call “The Great.” Now, he’s set to fight Ilia Topuria at UFC 298 in February, and he’s clarifying some of the things that were going on leading into his last bout.

“I took that decision [to fight] under-prepared,” Volkanovski said on the Who The Fook Are Those Guys podcast. “Stupid decision because there was a time I was a little uneasy, a little uncomfortable, I wasn’t in the gym, [I was] drinking a little bit, had a newborn, trying to be the best dad I could be, but unable to tick the boxes in the gym that I usually am, coming from an injury. So I wasn’t doing [great].”

“Usually I deal with things a lot better,” he continued. “It was just a time where the pressure was just a little bit much for me, a little uncomfortable. And everyone gets that, so I want people to understand that: I’m all good, but I’m glad people got to see that side of me because everyone is vulnerable at some point in their life. Everyone is uncomfortable.

“I’m usually in a lot more control, when it comes to resilience I’m very resilient when I deal with things,” he continued. “But, then again, there are limits to everything, especially with everything that’s going on. And then that decision came of taking that fight. I was like ‘This will snap me out of it, the drinking and all that, get me back in the gym properly.’ So I wasn’t really training. But I used that as ‘It’s meant to be.’

“I’ll be honest, there’ll probably be footage of this: straight after [the fight], I went into the back room and I was like, ‘What was I thinking?’” he added. “I made this stupid decision because of where my head was at ... and I just broken down. I was in the room broken down and literally went out and did the press conference. So, that’s where my head was at. Telling myself I made this stupid decision.”

“When I thought about it, it wasn’t the decision, I stand by my decision to take the fight,” he added. “I’m more disappointed in the timing. Usually I’m way more prepared, I’m in the gym a lot more, you would have seen a guy that was in a better position physically, mentally, going into that fight. I’m always been very professional, very disciplined, and I just wasn’t for the past few months.

“You’ve seen me at my most vulnerable,” Volkanovski continued. “And again, I’m okay, I had mixed emotions about people seeing me like that straight after. But, then the more I thought about it, I was like, ‘This is a positive.’ A lot of people reaching out. This is something that should be talked about because there’s a lot of people that probably aren’t in my position.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t know what makes them tick, they don’t know their purpose, they’re trying to figure all that out,” he continued. “I’m glad I could talk about it, that even the strongest men, most resilient of men can still get vulnerable.”

“It’s not weak to speak,” Volkanovski concluded.


For complete UFC 294 event coverage click here.

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