While he may have tipped the scales at over 200 pounds during his days as a rugby league player, Volkanovski has found a home at 145 pounds in MMA. At that weight, he’s not only forged a successful career on the sport’s biggest stage, but he’s established himself as contender for divisional GOAT status.
To accomplish that feat, the Australian has gone 12-0 in the UFC, including a trio of victories over Max Holloway. While the first saw him crowned champion in 2019, the most recent saw Volkanovski dominate “Blessed” across five rounds to record his fourth defense.
Having exhausted the immediate challenges at featherweight, Volkanovski’s first outing of 2023 will mark the attempted completion of a fresh ambition — champ-champ status.
At UFC 284, set for Perth, Australia, next month, Volkanovski will look to end the reign of Makhachev in what will be his very first defense since winning the gold at UFC 280 last October.
Since a knockout loss in 2015, Makhachev has amassed an 11-fight win streak, utilizing his elite sambo-style wrestling game to thwart the attacks of everyone he’s faced. With that in mind, many have suggested that the Dagestani will be too physically imposing for his upcoming challenger.
But while some expect Volkanovski to enter the contest significantly undersized compared to the lightweight champion, the Aussie has dismissed that narrative.
Volkanovski: I’ll Still Need To Cut Weight For LW
During a recent interview with The AllStar’s John Hyon Ko, Volkanovski looked ahead to a potentially legacy-defining collision with Makhachev at UFC 284.
After noting the immense preparation he and his team are putting in ahead of the event, Volkanovski rebutted the suggestion that he won’t be able to match-up with the lightweight king physically.
After noting that his current weight is around 80 kilograms (176 pounds), Volkanovski named the weight at which he’s hoping to enter the cage come fight night on February 11.
“We’re really focusing on certain things. Bulking, once I lean out that little bit, I got all that explosive muscle, the perfect weight — I can’t wait to see how my body’s going,” Volkanovski said. “I am a short featherweight, but I’m reasonably heavy… I hold a lot more water.
“I’ve always had to cut a fair bit. I’ll still have to cut a fair bit for lightweight. A lot of people think I’m just gonna walk in on weight. I’m like, 80 kilograms. I got up to 80 kilograms for this one. Now, I’m gonna start bringing it down,” Volkanovski added. “I don’t wanna fight at that weight. I wanna fight a little bit lighter. I wanna make sure I’m at the perfect (balance) where I’m just as strong and still just as fast. I think the 77, 78 (172 pounds) max.”
While Volkanovski has insisted that he’ll take Makhachev by surprise with both his strength and takedown defense, the Russian shrugged off the Aussie’s confidence on Twitter, predicting that the longtime featherweight fighter will “panic” once on the ground.
How do you think Alexander Volkanovski will fare against Islam Makhachev next month?
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