Not many people on the planet are made of the same cloth as Alexander Volkanovski.
He took on one of the best pound-for-pound players in the world, knowing full well that he was underprepared and underwhelmed.
Unfortunately for the Australian, no miracle happened; suffered a first-round loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
A tearful and pensive Volkanovski made it abundantly clear that he had been through a mental battle after his last fight, needed surgery on an injured elbow and had no crystal clear plan.
“I have to be in camp or I’ll get blown up,” he said in the post-fight press conference.
“I never thought I would have a problem with this when I wasn’t fighting or in camp. I have to be busy.
It’s really hard for athletes. I needed a fight and this opportunity came up.
“I didn’t train as much as I should have, but I thought I had to do it, I had to endure it.”
And the Australian star may live to regret the decision he ultimately made; He was caught by a nasty kick that landed Makhachev high in the face above his defensively positioned right fist.
It’s a kick that changes everything.
There are good reasons to believe that Volkanovski will now return to the featherweight division, which he has completely dominated for years.
And as long as he clears the concussion protocols quickly, Volk will be interested in setting a date and opponent for early 2024.
“Maybe this incident will give me a kick in the ass for being silly.
“Maybe this will get me back up to speed, get me back in there and back into the featherweight class where I can hit my stride.”
And who could question the New South Welshman? He has defended his belt five times in a row and has not been defeated by anyone not named Makhachev in ten years.
In recent events, Alexander “The Great” will be focused on getting back on his feet, as he had to do once after a loss to the Russian lightweight.
You can also add a valuable lesson to his growing resume; He doesn’t step back into an octagon unless he’s finished and prepared for another fight.
It’s the last thing his future opponents need.
Alex Volkanovski’s next fight
We’re still waiting for confirmation on what might happen next for the Australian. The option that continues to gain traction since dismantling Rodriguez in the middle of the year is a Georgian named Ilia Topuria.
The couple’s look after UFC 290 in Vegas immediately went viral. There is no doubt that the 26-year-old with an impeccable MMA record would like a shot at Volk.
Volkanovski’s return to the octagon was expected to be a sticking point after it was revealed he was struggling with injury problems following his win in July. There’s no reason to believe he won’t return to action soon after a rare loss and his worst defeat in years.
And UFC boss Dana White confirmed after Volkanovski’s latest victory that he could choose his next adventure in the octagon.
“He’s now at a point in his career where whatever he wants to do, what do we say?”
And after salvaging the situation at 294 and replacing Charles Oliveira on short notice, Volkanovski will most likely get what he wants.
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Who is Ilia Topuria?
Topuria is a 26-year-old from Georgia. He was born in Germany and also has Spanish roots but represents the Asian-European nation.
Standing 173cm tall and weighing 66kg, Topuria fights at both featherweight and lightweight divisions and has an impressive MMA record of 14 fights and 14 wins – six of which are UFC fights.
Like Yair Rodriguez, Topuria also beat Josh Emmett this calendar year. But he couldn’t stop the 38-year-old from Phoenix and won unanimously. This latest performance doesn’t bode well for his chances against the fighting machine Volkanovski.
Alex Volkanovski’s last two fights
Volkanovski defeated. by Islam Makhachev, TKO (24 wins, 1 loss) | UFC 294
Aside from a single loss in 2015, Makhachev has been virtually unbeatable in the octagon. And his winning streak continued in the rematch between the two.
While Volkanovski came ridiculously close to causing an upset when the two met in February, given that fight’s distance and controversial judging, there was nothing uncertain about it.
As mentioned, the Australian accepted the fight with 11 days’ notice.
Makhachev was booked to fight Brazilian Charles Oliveira, who had to withdraw due to a serious eye injury during a sparring session in training.
Alex Volkanovski defeated. Yair Rodriguez, TKO | Sunday July 9 (AEST), T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, Nevada), UFC290
The Australian bounced back from his earlier defeat in absurd fashion, stopping top Mexican striker Yair Rodriguez within three rounds. He has proven without a doubt that he is still the top contender in the featherweight division.
Volkanovski’s opponent, Yair Rodriguez, was hailed as a dangerous candidate for Volkanovski. Rodriguez, one of the company’s most exciting strikers, couldn’t do much against the Australian.
The pain of agonizingly failing to become two-division champions earlier in the year certainly gave Volkanovski great anticipation for his return to the octagon and featherweight divisions in July. And he didn’t disappoint.
Volk was happy to further his ground-and-pound improvements since preparing for his Islam Makhachev. He had success with takedowns against the Mexican before hitting him with a stunning right hook and finishing the job before the end of the third round. It was an incredibly impressive follow-up to Makhachev’s defeat.
Volkanovski has held the featherweight belt since December 2019 and has successfully defended it five times so far. The 26-2 record The owner has beaten some big names on his way to the top; Max Holloway three times, Jose Aldo and Brian Ortega.
Some casual Australian UFC fans may remember Rodriguez’s impressive performance at UFC 284 (Perth’s February 2023 event), where the Mexican took the interim strip in a submission win in round two. That win came against Josh Emmett, who respectfully isn’t on the same level as Volk.
Rodriguez clearly wasn’t ready to step up a gear against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The New South Welshman revealed after the win over Rodriguez that he would immediately undergo elbow surgery. He returned in Makhachev against Volkanovski II, and although he lost in that fight, he appears to have been left out of the other side of these issues.
How to follow Volkanovski’s fights?
Main event about Kayo
Similar to most pay-per-view fights seen in Australia, Volkanovski’s next fight will be available to purchase via Main Event on Kayo.
What happened in Volkanovski’s first fight with Islam Makhachev?
It’s clear to say that this was his most impressive achievement; He increased his weight to face lightweight king Islam Makhachev, who entered the race as the heavy favorite.
At the RAC Arena in Perth in February 2023, Volkanovski emerged relatively unscathed. But the jury chose the incumbent as the winner, dividing the MMA community. Volkanovski certainly didn’t lose any admirers as his 22-fight winning streak ended. As he moved up in weight, he certainly gave fans one of the most fascinating fights in years that lived up to the hype.
Volk completed five laps and finished much stronger. However, the judges ruled unanimously in favor of Makhavchev, who remained lightweight champion; Many within the UFC community disagreed.
Who is Yair Rodriguez?
The 30-year-old from Mexico has had a strong professional career so far, winning 15 of his 18 fights.
The biggest to date was in February at the same event where Volkanovski fought Makhavchev – UFC 284 – when he defeated Josh Emmett via submission in round two.
“El Pantera,” as he is known, meaning “The Panther” in Spanish, is a mixed bag when it comes to how he secures victories: six by decision, four by submission and five by knockout.
Rodriguez’s 15-3 The record may not come close to Volkanovski’s 25-2, but he is known for his aggressiveness and anything is possible when he steps into the octagon.