There are a lot of dangerous fighters in the UFC featherweight top-10, and the division’s new champion Alexander Volkanovski is more than happy to fight them all. That, he says, is simply the duty of a UFC champion.
“That’s how a champ should do it,” Volkanovski told BJPENN.com, adding that defeating his many featherweight rivals is the best way to cement himself as one of the best ever.
“It’s exciting,” he continued. “I love it. It’s a good time to be champion. You take out big guys like these [contenders] — I think it’s a lot more competitive than it was a few years ago — you go out and take out these No. 1 contenders, and you’re in GOAT talks straight away. I think the level of competition in our division is a lot stronger than it has been in the past. If I start taking these people out, everyone’s going to have to start being honest with themselves. The GOAT talk will start getting thrown around.”
This is not to suggest Volkanovski is not interested in big opportunities if they arise, such as a lucrative showdown with UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, but his priority is on defending his belt.
He believes that if he keeps his nose to the grindstone and defends his belt, the big opportunities will inevitably come — just as they did for the former champ Max Holloway.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sit here and ask for it, but if an opportunity comes, if Dana and the matchmakers come and say ‘we want you to fight Khabib,’ I’ll go ‘alright, fine. Sweet.’ You know what I mean? If that opportunity is given to me, for a big payday, I ain’t going to say no, but I ain’t going to be the type of person that’s going to try and dodge my division, dodge all the number one contenders.
“I’ve got a division to hold, so that’s what I’m going to do,” he added. “If opportunities come, I’ll worry about it then, but right now we’ve got a stacked division. Just like Max. Max was the same. Max wasn’t bullshitting around. Obviously eventually these opportunities came to him and he’s going to take them. He was a great champion, I’ll give him that. I’m going to do the same, and we’ll see what happens.”
How long do you think Alexander Volkanovski will be able to hold onto the featherweight title?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/14/2020.