Las Vegas, NV — With a third win over former featherweight champion Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski finally believes he’s settled the matter.
Volkanovski left no question this time, bloodying “Blessed” en route to a unanimous decision win at UFC 276 on Saturday. There’s no longer an argument as to who the better fighter is. At least there shouldn’t be.
“It’s good to finally put an end to it, and silence a lot of people. A lot of people that needed silencing too,” Volkanovski (25-1) said following the bout, backstage at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Shedding light into his mindset heading into the fight, “I wanted to win every exchange, I wanted to just be better and know that I’m better and don’t get bored in there,” Volkanovski explained. “Don’t get too complacent, don’t think you’ve done enough and chill, don’t start to cower, don’t do any of that.”
“Stand you ground, hold the line. Hold the line. Just do your thing,” Volkanovski continued. And while both the champ and challenger were fired up at points during the past week, “it wasn’t disrespect, I’ve got nothing but respect for Max,” the Australian added. “I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without him. He’s made me raise the bar. I don’t need anyone to help me raise the bar, I can do it myself but he makes it easy. He makes it easy to make me be disciplined. ”
Now it’s on to what’s next, and challengers appear to be crawling out of the woodwork. Including former double champ (flyweight and bantamweight) Henry Cejudo. The pair had a brief exchange backstage following UFC 276 (which thankfully went better than another backstage encounter).
“He wants to challenge me, he thinks he’s got what it takes. I need challengers, right, but they need to be big fights. And if people scream for it, we’ll see,” Volkanovski said on the prospect of fighting Triple C. “You can never say never. Obviously he’s done some great things; whether he’s got work to do, I think it could make a big fight, but I don’t even know what’s going on. But I respect the guy, he can fight. Olympic wrestler, two division champion, it’s impressive. So we’ll see what happens, but obviously right now we’ve got to wait and see.”
Another champ looking for a shot, Aljamain Sterling, got a different reaction. Sterling claimed on social media that he could easily take down Volkanovski and submit him.
“That’s alright. That’s okay. He’s got his own division to hold on [to],” Volkanovski replied. “Credit to him to fight someone like Petr Yan, to get the win, but settle down.”
Of course, Volkanovski’s sights are set on the lightweight division. He confirmed as much following his win against Holloway. But lightweight ex-champ Charles Oliveira, who will look to reclaim his title next, just called for a fight with Conor McGregor, because, well, that’s what everyone does. That’s the money fight.
“Can Conor even fight yet? Everyone’s calling Conor’s name, and they will always call Conor, but I won’t take that serious until there’s pen on paper and there’s some real serious talks,” Volkanovski said. “But again, let me see what’s happening with this [a potentially injured hand]. It gives me time what’s floating about and see what’s happening, maybe see what’s happening in my division.”
“Again I want to be active, but if it’s not opponents maybe it’s injuries that slow me down a little bit. But other than that I need to stay active, and I want that double champ status. Like I said, I can stay active enough and I proved it. What’s that, three fights in nine months? I just fought three months ago, not many champions are doing that. I don’t think I can get a number one contender that quick, and keep me that busy. So give me another division to do it.”
Watch the full UFC 276 post-fight press conference with Alexander Volkanovski above.