Alexander Volkanovski returns to action at UFC 290 on July 8th against interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez. And while few people are giving the flashy striker much of a chance against a grinder like Alexander “The Great,” Volkanovski himself is taking “El Pantera” very seriously.
“I’m looking at him as a real challenger,” Volkanovski said in an interview with The Mac Life. “Like he’s a dangerous fighter. He could be one of the most dangerous fighters I’ve fought, really.”
“When you talk about unpredictability, knockout power, and so many different tools, you need to take him really serious. I think I’m the best fighter in the world, so am I confident? Yeah. But I know not to take this guy lightly. He’s been dominating and looking good in his last few fights, you know what I mean?”
“Earlier in his career he had a lot of hype and he was — no, he wasn’t a one-trick pony, that’s the wrong word,” Volkanovski added. “I guess he fought more at one range and he was very good with his flashy stuff, but that’s all he sort of cared about, he was real comfortable at that range. Now he looks like he’s a lot more comfortable at all ranges. He looks very unpredictable when you’re pressuring him at a long range. No matter where it is, he can fire all different things from all different angles.”
“So that’s always a big threat, so it’s good. That’s when the master game planning and the fight IQ and all that type of stuff needs to come in, and I’m looking forward to it because, again, that excites me.”
In Volkanovski’s mind, he sees himself taking out Rodriguez and then securing a rematch against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, preferably in Abu Dhabi.
“Obviously I plan on winning,” Volkanovski said. “And yeah, I know a lot of people want to see that rematch and it was a great fight, so let’s do it again.”
That might annoy several other lightweights competing later this year for a chance to fight Makhachev, who is on forced vacation until he competes at UFC 294 in October. Who do you think Islam should fight next, Maniacs? Let us know in the comments!