Alexander Volkanovski is putting himself in a position to fill in for the lightweight title fight as a backup and he is ready.
The UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is not going to let an amazing opportunity pass him by. He has the chance to move up in weight and weigh in as the backup for the lightweight title fight set for UFC 280 next weekend. Often times the UFC will bring in a backup fighter for big matchups just in case one cannot make weight or cannot fight for any other reason. However, it is very unusual for that backup fighter to be another UFC champion.
In order to serve as the backup for this main event between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, Volkanovski must fly to Abu Dhabi, put in a training camp focusing on both men, cut weight, and be ready to go on a moment’s notice. Volkanovski has mentioned in other media appearances that he is ready for this challenge and now his wrestling coach Frank Hickman has expressed his thoughts on the matter. He spoke with Submission Radio about what this honor of being called in as backup means for Volkanovski’s character and legacy.
“To put himself in the position that he has to be the backup for a weight class above for a title fight that kind of shows just a true testament to his character and what he’s done and accomplished at the featherweight division,” he said. “I know he still has a lot more that he wants to do in that division. But you know, when the UFC allows somebody to go up, you know, they’ve really made a statement of what they’ve done previously with his career.”
Alexander Volkanovski is ready for whichever challenge is presented in front of him at UFC 280
As the wrestling coach for Volkanovski, Hickman knows just how prepared his student will have to be to face either of these men. Oliveira and Makhachev have two of the toughest and most experienced ground games in all of the UFC. The wrestling from Makhachev and the jiu-jitsu from Oliveira are dangerous for any fighter, even with a full camp prepared for them specifically. Hickman knows how focused and serious Volkanovski is in his training and knows he would not have agreed to be backup if he was not 100 percent ready.
“Alex and his team wouldn’t take this fight, they wouldn’t agree should not take this fight, they wouldn’t agree, to fly to Abu Dhabi, to make weight and to be the backup, if they weren’t in a position to where if they did get the call to step up and take the fight,” he explained. “They discussed it with the coaches and everyone felt that Volk was in a position where, you know, his stamina or his physicality or his training, that if he did get the nod by some circumstance he would be ready to go and by any means, this is no easy task. These guys like you said, they are monsters in this division.”
Volkanovski last fought back in July when he defended his title against Max Holloway. Following that bout, he underwent surgery on his hand. Hickman recalls that even with his hand in a cast, Volkanovski did not stop training. He never stopped putting in the work and helping his teammates.
“Like I said, don’t let the cast fool you. Volks, always training whether it’s S & C or wrestling or whether it’s hitting pads with one hand, you know, when Kai (Kara-France) fought in Dallas, Volk came out, his hand was in the cast and he had one hand and he was kicking, he was hitting pads with his one good hand so he was still finding ways and getting in really good workouts going about things,” Hickman explained. “How he normally would, you know, just overcoming it, adapting and finding different ways to go about his workouts but he was still getting it done he knew what was at stake and he knows what he wants to do.”
If Volkanovski’s services are needed on Oct. 22 he will be in his best shape to challenge for the lightweight title. If the main event of UFC 280 goes on without him, then the future is wide open, he could challenge the winner or defend his featherweight belt next year in his home country of Australia. Right now he seems to be in the driver’s seat.