UFC: Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski seeking knockout statement over Max Holloway on Fight Island

Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski Photo credit: Getty

Alexander Volkanovski has circled his rematch with Max Holloway as the moment he'll silence the doubters.

The fact that some observers still question the UFC featherweight champions' credentials is absurd given his résumé.

The 31-year-old is unbeaten in seven years and holds UFC victories over three of the top featherweights of all time in Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Holloway, who he comprehensively defeated for the title in December.

But the narrative since that title victory has centred around Holloway's deficiencies and what adjustments he'll make in the rematch to regain his title.

In reality, Volkanovski fought the perfect fight and didn't allow the Hawaiian to engage in his trademark aggressive striking tactics until the final round, by which time the result was never in doubt.

On July 12, Holloway will get the chance to right the wrongs of his title loss at UFC 251, which will be held on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. 

But for Volkanovski, it provides a grand stage to announce that he is undisputedly the best featherweight in the world.

"That is what has annoyed me," Volkanovski tells Newshub.

"I feel like there's a little bit of disrespect, seeing people all saying 'Max is going to turn this around after I shut him out five rounds to nil'.

"I dominated pretty convincingly, anyone who knows the game would say. Not easily, but I dominated all five rounds.

"People quickly forget these things. It's just given me motivation. I feel like I've got something to prove.I've already beaten him 5 rounds, but that's not enough for me. Winning is just not enough, I'm going to put him out. 

"A lot of people think he can't be finished, they reckon he's got that crazy chin and he's very durable on the ground.

"I guarantee you this, and this is my goal, I'm going to put him away inside the 5 rounds."

Stopping Hollaway would be quite the statement for the City Kickboxing-trained Australian. 

The former champion has fought and beaten the best of the best, in his 26 fights. Of his five losses, the only stoppage defeat came via submission at the hands of perennial lightweight contender Dustin Poirer in 2012.

But Volkanovski believes he has what it takes to knock Holloway out and leave no doubt about who the king of the division is. 

"You won't have Max thinking he won the fight, when the judges are calling the winner out," Volkanovski says. 

"I'm going to have him knowing with his head down that - I don't mean any disrespect when I say this - but he's going to know that he lost when my hand gets raised.

"This fight will be a little bit different - before I was all about shutting him down and proving that I'm the better fighter.

"But now I know I'm the better fighter, and now I'm going to prove that I can knock him out.

"I'm going to leave no doubt in anyone's mind that I am the best featherweight in the world and people are going to put some respect on my name."

UFC: Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski seeking knockout statement over Max Holloway on Fight Island
Photo credit: Getty
Kiwi Eugene Bareman will be in the corner of Volkanovski at UFC 251
Kiwi Eugene Bareman will be in the corner of Volkanovski at UFC 251 Photo credit: Supplied

One bonus for Volkanovski that could assist in his hopes of a highlight reel finish is news that Auckland-based super-coach Eugene Bareman will be in his corner in Abu Dhabi.

Bareman is heading to Las Vegas next week for Dan 'Hangman' Hooker's lightweight title elimination against Poirer at the UFC Apex. 

Bareman will spend the following week in the United States before flying to Abu Dhabi to help prepare Volkanovski for the Hollaway rematch. 

In normal circumstances, Volkanovski would be spending the final months of his training camp alongside City Kickboxing's Brad Riddell, Kai Kara-France, Israel Adesanya and Hooker, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made that impossible. 

Instead, the UFC champion is training at home in New South Wales with his long time coach Joe Lopez.

But the honorary Kiwi is delighted he will have the expertise of Bareman on his side come fight night. 

"Eugene is a wise man, a smart, wise man," Volkanovski said.

"A lot of the guys over there. New Zealand has had some of the top kickboxers for a long time, and you can see that in a lot of their strikers over there. They go into fine detail.

"Joe knows what I do good, but there are little things we can add, different perspectives."

As for the future, Volkanovski's interest was piqued last week, when newly retired Henry Cejudo name-dropped him as a potential opponent that would lure him back to the cage.

Cejudo left the sport last month as the reigning bantamweight champion and the most recent flyweight champion and proclaimed himself the greatest combat sports athlete of all time.

The 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medallist is a big name and a potential massive money earner for 'Volk' if the two clash.

"He [Cejudo] is now a featherweight fighter and if he comes back, he's done some big things so I would give him that opportunity.

"We'll see if the UFC can make it happen.

"You've got [Brian] Ortega and Korean Zombie [Chan Sung Jung] that are gonna be fighting, that's what I've been waiting for, rematch or a new No.1 contender.

"We should have a clear contender very soon. that excites me, I just want to know who's next."

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