“He Doesn’t Stand a Chance” — Volkanovski Downplays Topuria’s Prospects Ahead of UFC 298

Alexander Volkanovski, UFC 298 pre-fight press conference
Alexander Volkanovski, UFC 298 pre-fight press conference Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Anaheim, CA — Ilia Topuria is looking to do at UFC 298 what no UFC fighter has yet been able to: defeat Alexander Volkanovski in a featherweight fight.

Volkanovski’s only two losses in the UFC both came at lightweight, as he pursued the opportunity to become the promotion’s next double-champ. Having been turned back twice now by Islam Makhachev, those plans are on hold for the foreseeable future.

The featherweight division is not.

Thursday, during the UFC’s traditional pre-fight press conference, Volkanovski laid out the challenge Topuria had ahead of him — all while displaying the tongue-in-cheek humor that has defined the featherweight champ during this fight week. Days back, Volkanovski released, along with a sponsor, a hilarious response to Topuria and other critics of the 35-year old’s age. Playing off the success of that viral video, the Australian turned up at Thursday’s press conference in Anaheim dressed as an old man, with the joke seeming to sail over Topuria’s head.

With Topuria commenting on the champ’s attire, Volkanovski suggested his opponent’s bravado might just stem from a false sense of security. “He sees me in an old man outfit, now he wants to be a hard fella,” exclaimed Volkanovski. “I won’t be looking like this Saturday night. Saturday night I’m going to be lean and mean, and coming for your head.”

Topuria, among a profanity-laden tirade, promised to “humble” the Australian champ, adding “I’m going to take your head off.”

“How about this guy. How about him. Conor McGregor wannabe. Talking about red panty night,” Volkanovski later exclaimed — Topuria, earlier in the week, had even envisioned a stadium fight with McGregor.  “He likes to wear red panties.”

What Alexander Volkanovski is looking to display at UFC 298, ultimately, is that he is still the man to beat at featherweight. That he will not be dethroned despite his lightweight setbacks. “Obviously, go out there and show it. There’s going to be some doubts, he’s [Topuria] going to be showing a lot of confidence, he thinks he’s the man to do it. I’m going to show him that he’s not the man.”

“I’m goin to show you that I’m the guy who’s been on top of this division so long. He doesn’t stand a chance.”

Topuria is an undefeated 14-0, so he is no doubt a formidable challenge. But it will be up to him to prove come Saturday that he has what it takes to become the first man to beat Alexander Volkanovski at 145lbs.