UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has cited Herb Dean‘s reason for allowing Brian Ortega to continue fighting at UFC 266 and the commentary of his UFC 251 fight against Max Holloway as proof that people “in the system” are against him.
Volkanovski has rapidly crown into one of the UFC’s top champions. Since making his promotional debut in 2016, “The Great” has won 10 consecutive fights on MMA’s biggest stage. After defeating Chad Mendes and former dominant 145-pound king José Aldo, Volkanovski secured a title shot against Max Holloway at UFC 245. After five rounds, the Australian reached the featherweight pinnacle via unanimous decision.
Seven months later, Volkanovski ran it back with “Blessed” on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. In an extremely competitive and tight affair, the champ recorded his first defense and second victory over Holloway.
Following a postponed title defense at UFC 260 and a stint coaching on this year’s return of The Ultimate Fighter, Volkanovski finally returned to the cage last month to defend his gold against Brian Ortega. In a Fight of the Year contender, “The Great” survived two tight submission attempts to have his hand raised for a comfortable victory on the judges’ scorecards.
While most now accept him for the dominant and impressive champion that he is, Volkanovski doesn’t believe that view is held by some members of the UFC team. Speaking during a recent interview with ESPN MMA, the champion explained why he believes there is a strong bias against him within the promotion.
The Australian first brought up the commentary during his 2020 rematch with Holloway. The event was called by experienced play-by-play announcer Jon Anik and UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping. Having watched the co-main event bout back just before the interview, Volkanovski was eager to let his opinions on it be known. He branded the commentary “bad” and “embarrassing.”
“Mate, let me tell ya. I don’t wanna bring it up, but we were just watching that [Volkanovski vs. Holloway 2 at UFC 251], cause we obviously talk about the bias going into even the Ortega match… but there was a bit of a bias. Damn, it is hard to watch that second Max fight with how bad they [Jon Anik & Michael Bisping] were. Like, I need to say something to these guys ‘cos that is pretty bad… We just watched that and we were just laughing, I was like, ‘Are they serious or what?’ It was pretty incredible. Not that it wasn’t close, obviously it was close, but I mean, these guys don’t help my situation one bit. You know, it was pretty embarrassing on their behalf. They sort of tried to do that again, I feel, to Ortega. It’s like Americans against the Aussies.”
Having spoken of a similar perception for his fight against Ortega, Volkanovski added another example of the bias he believes is held towards him. Despite further staking his claim as one of the greatest featherweights of all time at UFC 266, the 33-year-old was still left with a slightly sour taste in his mouth, courtesy of referee Herb Dean. The champ, like many, firmly believes the fight should have been stopped between the third and fourth rounds.
Volkanovski claims that Dean’s reluctance to stop the fight, and admittance that he was granting Ortega more time to recover because he thought he was exhausted rather than hurt, is another instance of the bias against him. The Aussie believes that if he was Ortega, the main event would have been stopped.
Coupled with the commentary for his rematch with Holloway, Volkanovski thinks it’s clear there are people “in the system” who want to see him fail.
“Whether they didn’t like it and they’re against me because they want that belt in America, I don’t know what it is. I feel like there was still a bias even when you got the doctors and the refs going above and beyond to give a favor to my opponent. t’s not fair, obviously.
“He [Ortega] was done… He couldn’t get up, I think he thought the fight was over, he thought that the ref stopped it. He was laying down because he was that thrashed… You’re not allowed to get lifted off the stool, and lifted to the stool, which was already showing you that it was a TKO. The fact that he was wobbling and answering questions wrong, it obviously should have been stopped, even if Herb Dean is saying now that it wasn’t that he was that rocked, he was just tired. he made it public that he thought Ortega was more tired and that’s what it was. So he pretty much just admitted that he wanted to give him a minute rest, which is just like, mate, we talk about a bias against me, it’s pretty clear. I don’t wanna throw shade but… at the end of the day, it looks like there’s certain people in the system against me. It ain’t gonna stop me.”
Do you believe there’s a bias against UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski?