Las Vegas, NV — Ahead of his third fight with Max Holloway, which arrives Saturday at UFC 276, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski found himself needing to explain why he agreed to a third fight with a man he’s already defeated twice.
What it boils down to is simple enough: Volkanovski (24-1) likes to stay busy, wants to make money, and “it’s the biggest fight I could do right now,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s UFC 276 media day.
“Everyone wants to see it, right? And that’s it. That’s what it is. I’ll give him credit, he was stubborn, he goes ‘there aint’ no one taking that number one contender’s spot from me.’ That’s what he did, he stood there and took out other guys, and didn’t let them have a shot at me so now he gets a shot. Good on him. That’s exactly what I would do in the same situation. And now he’s obviously getting credited with a third chance.”
Volkanovski believes Max Holloway may give some different looks in this third fight. “I’m expecting Max to maybe even switch things up. I’m still expecting that chess match and strategy and all that type of stuff, so I need to be on. And I will be on on Fight Night.”
That said, the champ also expects to see “the same Max. He’s going to come forward and want to put hands on me, and you won’t see a backwards step from me.”
A third win over Holloway could lead Volkanovski to stray north to lightweight, but he does know that “the work’s not done” at 145 pounds. Still, with opponent injuries or having to wait for a contender emerge, “that’s why you’ve always got to have other options too, where it’s a double champ or whatever it is, big fights. Because again, I don’t want to just give people a title shot for the sake of it. If there’s injuries and someone has to replace [someone], alright, it makes sense. But then just getting someone that’s ranked further down for no reason, I feel like you need to take that number one spot, like Max did, and then you’ll get that shot.”
Asked by Cageside Press if a title shot would need to be in the offing were he to try his hand at lightweight, Volkanovski said it would— though he left the door open just a crack for other options.
“It has to be for the belt. I think I deserve that,” Volkanovski replied. “Obviously, what’s going to motivate me? Obviously challenges as well, or a massive fight— people take money fights, whatever it is, the real big fights obviously would be motivating, would be something that I’d want to do. But I want to go for that double champ status. Let’s worry about Max this weekend, but I definitely see myself calling for whoever has that belt.”
“My work’s definitely not done at featherweight,” Volkanovski also noted, citing the upcoming fight between Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega, and recent winner Josh Emmett.
Watch the full UFC 276 media day appearance by Alexander Volkanovski above. The event takes place this Saturday, July 2, 2022 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.