Alexander Volkanovski is fully confident in the fact that he is the one that will dethrone reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway.
In an interview with EMG Access, the 20-1 top contender explained why his skillset creates a difficult matchup for Holloway.
“He’s fought guys that are well-rounded, like people will say Frankie’s well-rounded, but I believe I’ve got a lot more tools,” Volkanovski said. “I believe I’ve got a higher fight IQ and I play what’s in front of me a bit better, than what Frankie would, you know, I believe. And my wrestling, you know, and strength.
“Obviously I’ve got the power, the strength. So I’ve always got that and my cardio, you know. I’m always dangerous.”
And while Holloway has plenty of tape to study on Volkanovski, the Australian expects to show “a whole different me” when he steps into the cage across from the champion.
Volkanovski has also studied Holloway’s bout with former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier. He noted that when Holloway tried to plod forward against Poirier, he was met with powerful shots that deterred him from his typical game plan.
Though he doesn’t have Poirier’s size — Volkanovski is listed as three inches shorter than Poirier — he believes he will be able to implement similar strategies when he clashes with Holloway at UFC 245.
“I’m a lot fitter than Poirier, and I believe I hit harder as well,” Volkanovski said. “So I honestly think that I’m the man to do it and I get to show the world that Dec. 14.”
Dec. 14 wasn’t the first date Volkanovski had in mind for his first UFC title shot, though. Originally, he wanted to fight in front of his people at UFC 243 on Oct. 5.
“It would’ve been good to fight on UFC 243 with the boys,” Volkanovski said. “Obviously a few of the boys, team partners and training partners are on there fighting and it would have been good fighting in a home crowd as well.”
The event, which takes place at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, is headlined by the title unification bout between Australian middleweight champion Robert Whittaker against New Zealand’s own, Israel Adesanya.
With Holloway making his third featherweight title defense on July 27 at UFC 240, the turnaround would’ve been challenging, which led the UFC to hold off on forcing their champion into a tough spot. Ultimately, Volkanovski feels that moving the fight back was a blessing in disguise.
“It’s probably better for me, especially to fight someone like Max for my own title on my own show and yeah, have the world watching me especially over there,” Volkanovski said. “I’m not too bad here. It gives me more time to prepare. Got to help the boys out with their camp and learn a bit and now we’ve got plenty of time to get ready for Max.”
Waiting since May to secure this title shot, Volkanovski is simply grateful to finally know his opportunity is coming.
“To actually get that contract sent, and obviously they made it official and stuff like that, it was unreal feeling,” Volkanovski said. “It was a relief when I definitely got that contract because I still had in the back of my mind like, you know, ‘What could happen here?'”
Now that the opportunity is locked up, “The Great” can begin to put his plan into motion.
“I’ve got these goals, I’m ticking them off. I said 2019 I’m going to be champion. Next year, We’re going to look at that pound for pound list,” Volkanovski said. “I want to be right up there. So I am planning on taking Max out, defend the belt a few times and then all of a sudden I’m one of the greatest featherweights in the history of the UFC.”
Though he won’t be taking the first step in front of his home crowd, Volkanovski knows that he’ll be representing his nation against the Hawaiian champion.
“I fight for Australia obviously, even the Anzacs, you know. I’m a part of New Zealand now as well, I feel,” Volkanovski said. “I’m fighting for this side of the world. Again, like we’ve still got something to prove. Obviously everyone knows that we’re a big threat, but you know, when we said we’re taking over, we really are.
“We’ve got guys fighting for the title in the middleweights, a New Zealand[er] and Aussie fighting for the title. I’m fighting for a title, you know, and we’ve got so many ranked guys, like we’re really setting statements on this side of the world, and I still want everyone to know that we’re a big threat.”
On top of representing his country, Volkanovski is fighting for his family.
“When I made the decision to be a fighter, that’s my career,” Volkanovski said. “So right now I need to win to feed my family and just fighting and being in the UFC is not enough. I need to set myself forever with my family. You know what I mean? So I need to be a champion. I need the world to know who I am and a build off that.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.