The UFC is saying farewell to 2019 with a loaded UFC 245 pay-per-view event. The card features three championship fights and is headlined by welterweight champ Kamaru Usman as he looks to defend against Colby Covington. The co-main event will see Max Holloway defend his featherweight title for the fourth time when battles Alexander Volkanovski.
UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje is this Saturday!
PPV main card starts at 2 pm ET. Watch live on ESPN+.
Volkanovski is currently on a 17-fight win streak and is coming off the biggest win of his career against the legendary Jose Aldo. The former rugby player turned title-contender recently spoke with The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko about the upcoming bout.
And according to “The Great,” he has never felt more convinced that he would come out the victor heading into a fight.
“I’m ready, man. I really am,” Volkanovski said.
“I’m so confident. I’ve never been this confident for a fight, and I’m fighting the champion. Stylistically, I’m the man to do it, and I think I’m going to go in there early and realize what I already know; that I’m the man to do it. When it’s on the feet, I’m going to have no problems grabbing ahold of him, and he’s just going to feel like another small, skinny featherweight to me. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, I just think that right now I’m way too strong.”
Brains and Brawn
The fabled strength of Volkanovski has been talked about by his teammates for some time. Though he’s only 5-foot-6, the former welterweight says he used to weigh as much as 240 pounds and still carries much of the power of a man that size. But it’s more than just a matter of Volkanovski being stronger than Holloway; he also believes the way he matches up with the champ stylistically is what fans are going to be most surprised by.
“At the highest level, styles really do make fights. And we’re both at a very, very high level. I’ve just got all the tools to give him a nightmare. I really do believe that. He (Holloway) has good takedown defense, he’s a good volume puncher, but I can do this all day if I have to. I’m not going to get tired. Punching in volume, you’re going to put yourself in dangerous positions. I’m going to be fit and I’m going to be throwing hard back at you the whole time.”
Playing the hand that’s dealt
Holloway’s power isn’t of much concern for the challenger. Volkanovski claims this isn’t his route to victory.
What Holloway is is a high-volume puncher with an iron jaw. In his bout with Ricardo Lamas, Holloway pointed at the center of the cage and called for Lamas to meet him in the middle and slug it out for the final seconds. When asked if he would welcome that sort of a slugfest, Vokanovski was noticeably excited at the prospect.
“That’s my world. If he wants to do that, he’ll put himself in those vulnerable positions,” Volkanovski said.
“I just believe I’m a lot more calculated than a lot of these fighters. No disrespect to the fighters he’s asked for and done things like that to, I’m just a whole other level.
“If you make a silly mistake like that, I’m going to capitalize on it. I play what’s in front of me. You’re going to put yourself in very risky positions, which he does because he likes to break people, but if you put yourself in that position with me, I’ll capitalize on it and finish the fight.”
The end of an era
Though he knows he may be coming off brash and dismissive, Alexander Volkanovski proclaims that he’s “not cocky, just confident.” He knows what an impressive champion Holloway has been, he just honestly believes that he’s the worst possible matchup for him.
“I don’t like to sound disrespectful, but all I know is the “Blessed” era ends in the featherweight division. He’s been talking about going up to lightweight and I’ll make that decision for him. The “Blessed” era ends in featherweight. He can move up and start taking names there, but this will be my division come December 14th.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.