Alexander Volkanovski reveals health battles from drastic dieting to move down from welterweight

Alexander Volkanovski wins at UFC Auckland

Don’t let Alexander Volkanovski’s height of 5’6″ inches deceive you, the current featherweight champion has fought contenders in significantly heavier weight classes. However, the journey to drop the pounds previously plagued “The Great” with multiple ailments:

The Australian athlete joined the Joe Rogan Experience podcast today to discuss his recent title victory against Max Holloway. He also explained his transition from professional rugby to MMA and his dramatic weight loss that happened in the process:

“I had four amateur fights [when playing rugby] then went pro. [My first loss] That was against at the time, Corey Nelson. He was pound-for-pound number one. Obviously, this was at welterweight, this was very early in my career and I should not have taken that fight. But we were in a tournament and I had him first so I had the favorite straight up. And again, it was in a division I probably should have never been in. But, you know, I took him on and I did alright, I held my own, but things didn’t go well.

“It went a lot better for me after that because I realised that he was too strong so I thought ‘right I have to go down, or I have to start grappling as well.’ So that’s when I actually started grappling after that.”

The 31-year old began refining his MMA craft through non-stop jiu-jitsu for four months. To test the fruits of his labor, he competed in a jiu-jitsu competition. He claimed the gold and this was the time when Volkanovski started cutting the pounds:

“I remember doing that jiu-jitsu comp, I was stood on the podium and getting gold, so I was on the first podium, they’re on the second and third and they’re still taller than me,” laughed Volkanovski. “So that’s why now I fight at featherweight.

“I’m used to footie players, big, front-rowers, and fighting at middleweight, and all these different divisions. Now I look at these featherweights, they’re puny compared to what I’m used to.”

Joe Rogan is astonished that Volkanovski was fighting at 170 pounds, 25 pounds heavier the division he currently champions. The Australian responded:

“Yeah and that was at pro fighting the top guys. I fought Anton Zafir, before that [Corey Nelson] and he was a UFC fighter as well at welterweight.”

Volkanovski explained how diet is key and revealed the drastic measures he used to go to to make weight:

“Obviously dieting is absolutely key. Even now, when I train so hard, if you’re not dieting well, the weight won’t come off.

“Starting early, I didn’t know much. I don’t know what I know now having dieticians, I was never doing that. I literally ate next to nothing. I would train a lot, I was training rugby league, fighting, training and then concrete [work]. And when I was getting close to fights, I was eating next to nothing.”

When Joe Rogan asked if he got ill from yoyo-dieting, Volkanovski responded:

“Yes 100%, staph infections all the time. It’s crucial, diet. The science to it all. Now it’s an absolute game-changer…I had to miss out on fights due to bad staph infections, MRSA, and all that type of [stuff].”

Watch Alexander Volkanovski’s full interview with Joe Rogan below and stay tuned on BJPenn.com for all fight news.