Alexander Volkanovski remains confident of his chances against Brian Ortega — even with all the improvements the latter has made.
Ortega is expected to challenge Volkanovski for the featherweight title sometime in the next few months following a successful return to action in October last year.
“T-City” was the underdog in his fight with The Korean Zombie on that occasion, but enjoyed a striking masterclass over five rounds to come out with the unanimous decision victory.
Many observers in the combat sports world were surprised with Ortega’s performance with Volkanovski notably being one of them.
“It took me by surprise because I didn’t expect him to fight, I wouldn’t say fight smart, but his shot selection, a couple of things that I just didn’t expect,” Volkanovski told SCMP MMA. “I thought he would just be looking for the finish, that’s what he does.
“… But there, he showed patience, shot selection, fakes — a lot of things that we work on. Whether he took some notes out of our book, I don’t know, but he’s obviously stepped it up and he looked good.”
Ortega’s performance also led many to ponder whether this new version could pose problems for Volkanovski, who remains undefeated in the UFC.
However, “The Great” remains confident of getting the victory. Even if it’s on the ground where Ortega is most effective with his black belt in jiu-jitsu.
“It’s exciting for me but at the same time, I really do believe I’m just on a whole other level and I’m so well-rounded, I can take the fight wherever it is,” Volkanovski explained. “I’m the guy that never quits. With me, it’s so easy to say I’m well-rounded but it goes so much deeper than that. There are so many little things that I just have down to a tee and I work so hard to make sure that I am such a complete fighter that if someone gives me trouble somewhere, I can always take it somewhere else.
“… Even if I have to go to the ground. … I don’t need to worry about him taking me down. We’ll see. Obviously, I can’t give too much away but if I want to take someone down, I can. Am I going to have a BJJ match with him in a middle of a UFC fight? No. But again, I’m a very smart fighter. There’s different rules [compared] to just on the BJJ mats. We can punch you on the face, there’s a cage, there’s a lot of obstacles in an MMA cage especially when you can use your hands and elbows and what not. … If I want to take it to the ground, I’ll be more than comfortable to do so.”
As for how he sees the fight playing out? Volkanovski expects to break Ortega much like former champion Max Holloway did back in December 2018.
“I believe I’m going to break him,” Volkanovski added. “The way that Max did, I believe that’s somewhere I can go with. Especially with my pressuring style. This is a fun fight for me because I get to put the pressure on. I get to be in his face which is fun and people want to see that.
“… There’s levels to this. I believe my pressure, when I use it, my pressure’s on a whole ‘nother level that not many people in the world have felt. Izzy, Israel Adesanya said himself that I’m half his size and when we’re sparring, he realizes this guy is pressuring me, getting me on the backfoot. ‘Wait a minute, this guy is half my size, I can’t let that happen.’ So he stands his ground. Before he knows it, he’s on the backfoot worrying about what I’m doing. … That’s something that you don’t understand until I’m standing in front of you.”
You can watch the full interview below: