Alex Volkanovski is prepared to step up to lightweight in a bid to stay active.
In what may go down as the best fight of the year, Volkanovski defended his featherweight title for a second time at UFC 266 on Saturday against Brian Ortega. The thrilling back-and-forth encounter saw the 32-year-old escape Houdini-like from several deep submission attempts and record his twentieth successive victory—the longest active winning streak by a fighter on the UFC roster.
The lopsided unanimous decision will go far to solidify Volkanovski’s status as champ following his contentious second victory against Max Holloway in July last year. And while the Australian is yet to clean out the division, there remains few top featherweight contenders who haven’t already been soundly defeated by Holloway or Ortega.
There are, of course, plenty of willing challengers further down the ranks, including rising stars Giga Chikadze and Arnold Allen. However, both are yet to be tested against top-five opponents.
Alex Volkanovski Itching For Quick Return, Open To Lightweight
Now that Volkanovski has vanquished his two closest rivals, it appears his next order of business is to fight more often. A bout with COVID-19 robbed the Australian of fighting Ortega in March, and Saturday’s fight was his first in 15 months.
However with Holloway scheduled to face #3 ranked Yair Rodriguez on November 13, Volkanovski faces yet another long wait to fight the victor. Speaking at the UFC 266 post-fight press conference, the 32-year-old said he’s not prepared to do so.
“They’re not fighting till later. If I have to move up just to get a fight while we’re waiting for that—because again, I want to fight regularly. I don’t want to wait another fuckin’ six, seven months. So yeah, we’ll just see what happens,” said Volkanovski.
So eager to make up for lost time is Volkanovski that he’s willing to move up a division.
“Yeah, I’ll move up,” continued Volkanovski. “I’ll go up to lightweight, have a bit of fun there, and then just wait for the winner, and then we’ll run that back.”
While a move up to 155 pounds may seem an enticing prospect for Alex, it probably won’t translate into an immediate title shot. Champ Charles Oliveira is slated to face Dustin Poirier in December, which means Volkanovski will have to place his unbeaten streak on the line against one of the lightweight division’s many other killers, without the chance of capturing UFC gold.
What do you think? How would Alex Volkanovski fare at lightweight?