Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Coach: Volkanovski Has Justified An Immediate Lightweight Title Shot

Alexander Volkanovski‘s coach has given his take on talk of the UFC Featherweight Champion challenging for the lightweight title later this year.

At UFC 273, Volkanovski further extended his reign and dominance in the 145-pound division at the expense of “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. Having previously retained his belt with victories over Max Holloway and Brian Ortega, the Australian made it three defenses in a row and 21 consecutive MMA victories with a brutal beating of featherweight mainstay Jung in Jacksonville.

In the immediate aftermath of his latest pay-per-view victory, and in the days since, Volkanovski has made his desire to achieve two-division championship glory clear. The Aussie’s coach, Joe Lopez, has now discussed his pupil’s aspirations.

Coach Lopez Foresees A Volkanovski LW Shot At The End Of 2022

During an interview with The AllStar’s John Hyon Ko in Thailand, where Volkanovski is present to conduct a seminar for aspiring fighters, Lopez addressed the possible next next steps for what the featherweight champ has frequently claimed will be a three-fight year for him.

While Lopez is supportive of the Aussie’s lightweight ambitions, he expects “The Great” to require one more dominant featherweight defense this summer before challenging for gold at 155 pounds later in the year.

“Any title shot is good, you know? Whether the UFC wants to make that happen, I think Alex would probably have to have a fight before that and put on another great performance,” said Lopez. “Then I’m sure that it’ll be on the cards. And yeah, it’d be great to see. Either of those two (Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje) would be great opponents. But let’s see what happens when they fight.

“If Alex fights end of August, and these guys fight, I think they’re fighting next month, then maybe later on in the year they (Volkanovski and Oliveira/Gaethje) could (fight for the lightweight belt) and see what happens,” added Lopez.

But despite expecting his man to share the cage with another 145lber before challenging the lightweight king later this year, Lopez believes Volkanovski has already justified an immediate crack at champ-champ status.

“That’s not up to me, that’s up to the UFC. But, honestly, he has done enough (for a lightweight title shot).”

While many have pointed towards Max Holloway, whom Volkanovski was initially booked to face earlier this year, Lopez confirmed that “Blessed” hasn’t been brought up as a possible next opponent by the UFC.

With that in mind, the coach believes Arnold Allen, Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, and Josh Emmett all have a chance at securing the number one contender spot if they can notch impressive wins in the coming months.

Should one of them be added to the already-stacked résumé of Volkanovski in August, perhaps a 155-pound venture won’t be too far behind for the featherweight king.

Do you agree with Coach Joe Lopez? Has Alexander Volkanovski done enough to deserve an immediate title shot at lightweight?

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