Ilia Topuria is the talk of the Featherweight division after UFC Jacksonville this past weekend (June 24, 2023).
Headlining his first career UFC main event, Topuria, 26, performed masterfully in his unanimous decision win over a perennial top contender, Josh Emmett. The brutal win launched Topuria from No. 9 to No. 5 in UFC’s official rankings, therefore, positioning the undefeated Spaniard (14-0) firmly in a position to request a title shot.
Topuria is willing to wait for the winner UFC 290’s title unification bout between undisputed and interim champions, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez, which goes down next weekend (Sat., July 8, 2023). However, should a big opportunity like a Max Holloway main event in Spain arise, Topuria is open to that instead, but the current reigning champ would like to have a fresh face awaiting him post-Rodriguez.
“I’m hearing a lot of people mentioning other guys, Ilia fighting other guys — I’m like, ‘No,’” Volkanovski said on DC & RC (h/t MMA Junkie). “Don’t do it. Just give me a guy. Give me a contender. To be honest, I’m not going to say too much. I think he’s a good fighter. But the more I speak, the less I’m going to hype up the fight. I think he’s great.
“I think it’s a great fight and that would work well on some people, but won’t work well on others,” he continued. “I want [new] guys. I want to be active. I was at a stage where I was like, ‘Give me the No. 1 guy.’ We’ve sort of cleared them. Everyone’s raving on about this guy. I’ve got Yair to worry about. I’ll worry about that first, because I see him as a much bigger threat than Ilia. I’ll make sure I go out there and do my business, and if that’s on the cards — again, I want to be active.”
Volkanovski’s upcoming defense will act as his return to the 145-pound division after attempting to capture Lightweight gold in Feb. 2023 against Islam Makhachev. Unfortunately for “The Great,” Volkanovski dropped a super controversial decision (watch highlights).
To check out the latest UFC 290 fight card and rumors click here.