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One of the greats? What’s next for UFC 232’s Alexander Volkanovski?

One of the greats? What’s next for UFC 232’s Alexander Volkanovski?

Alexander Volkanovski smiles inside the UFC's octagon

If you’re new to the ‘World of Volk’, you might think UFC 232’s performance makes him the next best thing at 145-pounds. Truth be told, that’s been the case for quite some time now.

Alexander Volkanovski might have stolen the show this weekend after his emphatic comeback against Chad Mendes. The back and forth between him and Mendes hearkened back to the days of simple, yet beautiful MMA poetry. From the get-go, Mendes was finding effective strikes via leg kicks and counter jabs that kept Volkanovski at bay. Every move, feint, hesitation, and counter had to be expertly timed. With both fighters swinging at a dangerous clip, the scale seemed likely to tip at any moment.

For a moment there, it seemed like Mendes was en route to make it two wins in a row for 2018. The exchanges started leaning in his favor as he kept finding the outside straight on his way out. Volkanovski, ever the aggressor, refused to give an inch of space and kept taunting Mendes for more. The forward pace would continue into the second until a thunderous right hand from Mendes changed the course of the fight.

In real-time, the crack of Mendes’ glove hitting Volkanovski in the cheek seemed to be the beginning of the end. In the offensive flurry that followed, Mendes started to land hard and with volume. Even still, Volkanovski’s trademark counter striking was finding its mark even though he was dazed. Volkanovski answered back with lead hooks that forced a smile from Mendes, and made him stall with his offense.

Don’t call it a comeback

Consequently, the offensive output Mendes put on his opponent caused him to grow tired. This giveaway soon became blood in the water for Volkanovski, who decided to pounce on his weakened opponent. Although built with a similar frame, Volkanovski has noticeably less muscle content than Mendes. This very well may have been the difference maker as Volkanovski started to surge with confidence. In a last-ditch attempt, Mendes tried for a rear-naked choke but didn’t have the energy or dexterity to pull it off.

With all of Mendes’ cards on the table, Volkanovski turned the dial and started putting it on his opponent. After a few monstrous elbows and hooks with Mendes on the cage, the fight was called just moments after. When it comes to clinch striking with fighters in his range, Volkanovski is a few margins above the rest. His combination of speed and threatening power is unlike any other in the sport. The closest example to him, coincidentally enough, is Chad Mendes. With his efforts at UFC 232, Volkanovski proves he is not to be taken lightly.

If you only took his performance at UFC 232 as a sample, you might think this kind of result is a flash in the pan for Alex Volkanovski. The truth is, he’s made a career of doing just that with every appearance he’s had so far. If he’s not finishing opponents with his devastating power, he’s providing three rounds of solid action to give every fan their money’s worth. With this latest victory, Volkanovski sits at 6-0 in the UFC.

Taking it to the next level

With the future of the featherweight rankings in his crosshairs, it’s only logical for Volkanovski to take that next step. Australian MMA has made some massive leaps this year in making their fighters more noticeable. Volkanovski at the forefront of a featherweight main event or co-main event would be a stellar move to inhibit that growth. In order to get there, he needs to be paired up with exceptional competition that will merit that spot on any card.

Not only that, but Volkanovski possesses an attribute of fighting that most fans, and Dana White especially, find appealing. The ability to swing leather the way Volkanovski does makes him a formidable threat against any matchup. Pairing his talents alongside someone like Yair Rodriguez would yield fan-friendly results that any matchmaker would love. Luckily, featherweight is a division with no shortage of high-tempo match ups. Heading into 2019, Alex Volkanovski has more than a few fight options that make sense.

Speaking to Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview, Volkanovski called out Max Holloway, the current UFC featherweight champion.

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“The reason why I called Max Holloway out is that I’m definitely next in line; Moicano lost his chance when he missed weight and now he’s fighting Aldo,” Volkanovski explained to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.

“If Aldo wins that, does he get another rematch (with Holloway)? A lot of people are saying ‘what’s next for Holloway, does he move up?’ They say there’s nothing left for him.”

“He’s still got a short little hobbit wrestler with overhand rights to fight. There’s guys like me and Frankie Edgar, that’s a style he hasn’t fought yet and I think it’d be a real test for him.”

For now, though, Volkanovski admits that a fight with anyone in the top-five of the UFC’s official featherweight rankings is most acceptable.

“Maybe one more fight and then the title.”

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