Ahead of UFC 281 on Saturday night, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski spoke with ESPN to update them on the highly-anticipated champion vs. champion matchup between himself and new lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev.
Getting straight to the hard-hitting questions, ‘The Great’ was asked exactly how close Makhachev and himself were to signing on the dotted line. Though he couldn’t provide any specific details, Volkanovski said they were “close.” As far as where the fight will be held, the No. 1 pound-for-pound ranked fighter confirmed that they are “100 percent” planning for Perth, Australia. “Obviously we’re pushing for it and if everyone wants it, we’re gonna make it happen,” said Volkanovski.
Asked how he matches up to the much bigger Islam Makhachev, Alexander Volkanovski believes the size difference won’t matter but enjoys the comparison to David vs. Goliath.
“I think I match up well. Size-wise and all that, I’m not worried about that. Size is nothing. It’s all about… Well, that’s gonna be good. That’s just gonna add to the story because people are going to sit there and think of like, you know, David and Goliath. It’s going to be a real David vs. Goliath because now everyone thinks he’s the strongest man on the planet and best grappling anyone’s ever seen the way they’re talking about him.
“It’s just going to look incredible when I get the job done and they figure out that he can’t hold me down and that technique and game planning and all that’s going to be in full force. I go and then accomplish these goals that I plan on doing, it’s going to be a real David vs. Goliath story.”
Alexander Volkanovski Says the Short Jokes Stop Inside the Octagon
At 5’6″ tall, Alexander Volkanovski doesn’t even crack the top ten for the shortest male fighters in UFC history, but every one of his opponents likes to bring up his relatively short stature when it comes time to build a rivalry. ‘The Great’ certainly doesn’t sweat it though. Once an opponent steps into the Octagon with him, they’re no longer thinking about his height. They’re thinking about how to survive.
“Don’t worry about it. They’ve been calling us small for years. I mean, all of my opponents have called me small and we’ve gone on fine. They’re always saying I’m short and they’re obviously in the Octagon they quickly forget about that and after that, they won’t mention the shortness ever again.”
Even though Volkanovski is venturing to the 155-pound division to seek champ-champ status, he has no intentions of turning his back on the featherweight division where he currently reigns supreme. Discussing his work at 145-pounds, Volkanovski knows there are top contenders like Arnold Allen, Josh Emmett, and Yair Rodriguez chomping at the bit to get a crack at “The Great.”
“There’s three guys right at the top there. You know, I want that lightweight title, you know what I mean? That’s what I’m going for and again, we’re pretty much about to get that done. If they need to do an interim or whatever it is, figure out who’s going to be next for me. That’s all I want. So if the interim is going to happen, obviously someone’s going to be upset because that means one person is missing out who thinks they deserve it.”