Alex Volkanovski is a streaking featherweight who is currently riding a lofty 15-fight winning streak. Even with that, the Australian is only ranked 10th in the featherweight division. However, that can all change on Dec. 29 at UFC 232, where Volkanovski will have his toughest test to date when he takes on Chad Mendes.
Mendes is a two-time title challenger and is currently ranked fifth in the division. Put all of that together and it is a huge fight for Volkanovski.
“It was just the process like that, and then I was waiting and waiting, and finally got told it was Chad Mendes on December 29. I wanted to fight earlier in the year,” Volkanovksi said to BJEPNN.com. “But, it is Chad Mendes, one of the biggest names in our division, if not the biggest name. He is ranked number five so this is a huge opportunity for me. I was just blown away that it is actually happening and can’t wait to capitalize on it.”
For Volkanvoski, he knows this is his best opportunity to make a name for himself. He is taking on a fan favorite in Mendes and a tough opponent. However, for Volkanvski he knows it should be a rather easy fight for him.
“I honestly see it as an early finish,” he added. “It has nothing to do with me being like ‘oh I am so much better I am going to knock him out in the first round,’ It is just that styles make fights and I just see this one finishing earlier. Whenever he gets me down or I get him down, we will get straight back up. We are both good at getting up with our short little legs, so it is easy for us to get up. I am expecting to put the pace on him, and I just think I am going to finish him, whether it is using my reach or drawing him in and countering. Whatever it is, I am going to get the finish.”
If that is indeed the case, Volkanovski will have a coming out party of sorts. He will thrust himself right into title contention and show the featherweight division that he is for real.
The Aussie believes that he is the best featherweight in the division, whether other fighters agree or not. What is agreed upon, is that this fight is huge for Volkanovski’s popularity and his future.
“100 percent, this is it. On a card like this against a guy like that, everyone is going to be tuning in. I am expecting to go out there and get a big finish as well,” Volkanovski said. “This is definitely the coming out party. I am going to be hyped up, the fight is going to be hyped up as well. There is going to be a bit of talk before the fight, but then I am going to go do my thing.
“My social media and me as an individual is going to explode. Get the hype around me and then let’s make some money.”
However even before this fight will happen, Volkanovski has had a hard time getting fighters to fight him. He believes many fighters know he is the best and there isn’t a lot of reward for beating him. Luckily for him, Mendes finally agreed, and he is ready to show him why other fighters are refusing to fight him.
“He is going to fight a guy ranked 10th in the division and that is a big threat. It is a high-risk low-reward for him. I believe I am the best in the division and a lot of them think I am up there as well. Fighting someone like me is a big risk. I am starting to get my name out there. To the people that know the rankings and the game, they know I am the real deal. When it comes to styles, I feel like I am better everywhere and it is f*****g Chad Mendes so I am going to explode after this.”
Ultimately, even though Volkanovski believes he will finish Mendes, it is still a tough fight. Mendes creates problems on the ground for any fighter, as his wrestling is top-notch. However, Volkanovksi believes this fight will be mostly standing, but even if he thinks that he knows he needs to train to be taken down.
“I am not worried about anyone’s ground game. I am honestly one of the best at getting back up to my feet, especially now,” he said. “I’m getting better and better so it is very hard to hold me down. There is no way he is going to hold me down. Do I think he can get the takedown? Yeah, of course, it is MMA but I am not worried about the takedown that is the thing. I will get straight back up.
“Before I even knew about the fight I have been grappling, wrestling, preparing for the fight. More than I have been over the last two years,” he added. “Now I am getting going, getting the gameplay going and picking up the cardio. I am just getting better and doing what I have to do to get ready for the fight.”
With a win at UFC 232, Volkanovski can skyrocket to the top of the rankings where a title shot is not out of the picture. For now, however, the training camp continues as he prepares for what will be the biggest fight of his life.
“I will definitely be in title contention, my name is going to be thrown out there. Rankings don’t really matter at the end of the day. I know my name is going to be thrown out there.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 11/26/2018