One of the hottest prospects making their way to the top of the featherweight division, is Russian fighter Zabit Magomedsharipov. Champ Alexander Volkanovski seems to think that this would be a relatively easy fight for him.
As a new champion, there is a lot of matchups that Volkanovski has not had in the featherweight division. While he did beat some big names on his way to two victories over Max Holloway, he has not faced much of the top ten.
The featherweight champion is hopeful to get one such matchup out of the way, when he takes on Brian Ortega in the spring. Naturally, he is looking forward to the fresh matchup, and interesting opponent.
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Alexander Volkanovski Would Outlast Zabit
Another interesting contender that is close to a shot at Alexander Volkanovski, is 18-1 Zabit Magomedsharipov. Fighting out of Dagestan, Zabit is 6-0 inside the UFC, with his latest win being against Calvin Kattar.
While Alex has a lot of respect for Zabit as a fighter, he thinks that this would be a matchup that favors him. Speaking in a recent interview, he explained that Zabit’s questionable cardio is an area that he could exploit as the fight goes on.
“People are going to say… if it’s a five round fight, he’s got to work on his cardio, and all this stuff. But you’ve got to be realistic with it,” Volkanovski said.
“He is a very explosive dude, especially for his height. He really takes advantage of whatever opportunity comes in front of him. He’s always going, and he goes hard.
“That’s why it’s exciting as well. He like his flashy stuff and all that type of stuff, his takedowns and all that, but you tend to see him wear out later in the rounds, and you’ve seen that in his last three or four fights.
“So I would be silly to say that grinding him down wasn’t an option. He is a complete fighter, he is a very well rounded fighter, but at the same time when it comes to gas tanks, he has shown that he tends to fade in fights.
“There’s no better man to break someone than me, I believe. When it comes to pressure and really getting people worried about what I’m doing and breaking them, no one does it better than me.
“I believe that I’m a terrible matchup for him, but at the same time I respect everyone in my division. He’s a great fighter, but I see my success when it comes down to cardio and endurance and that type of stuff.”
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Going 3-0 In One Night
Just as much as Alexander Volkanovski is not afraid to fight Zabit Magomedsharipov, he is not afraid of street fights either. Although he says that he largely avoids these types of conflicts nowadays, this was not always the case.
In fact, he reflected on a time that he got into a scrap at a bar, early in his MMA career. After beating his opponent inside of 6 seconds, he wanted to get some brinks, but got in a fight at the bar instead.
“Probably the last time (I got in a street fight) was I think my last amateur fight,” Volkanovski explained.
“I had a fight, I won in six seconds, and I went out drinking afterwards. I don’t look for trouble, but some trouble found me. I was trying to say ‘leave me alone, leave me alone,’ but it ended up happening, you know what I mean?
“Now I try not to get in places where I think that’ll happen. I’ll get myself out of there before that can happen. That was a long time ago, that was about 7 or 8 years ago.”
“(My coach) ends up hearing about it, because he owns a security company,” Volkanovski added.
“He ends up hearing about my fights and he ends up saying to me at the gym ‘Oh so I heard you went 3-0 on last Saturday night.’ …
“I was trying to play it off, but they ended up seeing the footage and things like that. It’s something I’m not proud of.”
Before he was fighting in the UFC, Alexander Volkanovski was a massive rugby player. So there is no scenario where fighting him at a bar is a fun experience for those involved.