Alexander Volkanovski gives mental health update after UFC 294 loss

Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 290. | Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

When Charles Oliveira suffered a ghastly cut in training for his long-scheduled UFC 294 lightweight title challenge to champ Islam Makhachev, featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski stepped up on very short notice. Unfortunately, he lost via first round KO. Not surprising given his complete lack of a training camp.

Volkanovski talked about his need to stay busy after UFC 294 loss

Still, some found it concerning that Volkanovski was talking about his mental health so candidly after such a tough loss. He also described signing the contract to face Makhachev on short notice as “a silly decision.”

“Maybe it was just a silly decision under them circumstances. There are decisions you don’t want to make against someone like Islam. And I’m not taking nothing away from him. 

“Maybe this happened, (and) gave me a kick up the ass for being silly. Maybe it won’t happen again now. Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe this would kick me back into gear, get back in there, get back to the featherweight division and kick ass there.” 

“You just need to keep busy. That’s why I asked the UFC to keep me busy,” Alexander Volkanovski told reporters. “I need to be keeping busy, I need to be in camp. Otherwise, I’m gonna do my head in.”

Alexander Volkanovski says he’s doing ‘okay’

No one is doubting that the extreme challenges involved in moving up a weight class to face possibly the best pound-for-pound fighting in MMA today. But all too often we obsess on the physical aspects and forget about the emotional difficulty of competing and failing at a very high level and how vulnerable athletes are in the aftermath of such a loss.

If Volkanovski seemed like he was in a rough spot after his loss at UFC 294, he wants fans to know that a lot of what he had to say then was just a reaction to the moment and the weight of losing such a high profile fight.

“So straight after the fight, I did the post-fight press conference and I want people to understand that, yeah, there was a raw emotion seen, but I want everyone to know that I’m OK,” Volkanovski said in a recent video uploaded to his YouTube (transcript via MMA Junkie). “I think that people have to remember that I did just come off getting tagged, knocked out. I lost. I knew that legacy wise and all that, all those things start coming into play, so that was obviously hurting me.”

“Sometimes you put a lot of pressure on yourself because I know I need to make the most of me in my prime because my days are numbered,” Volkanovski said. “Me and my wife, we’re great. We have a beautiful family, and we’re good. I want everyone to know that. I don’t want everyone thinking that it’s not like that.

Volkanovski went on to assure fans that he’s not an absentee father while he’s in training, and that he feels he’s “probably even a better dad” during his fight camps. Mostly, he was just “trying to deal with being a high-performance athlete,” and the pressure that comes with not fulfilling those goals.

“One thing that I do want to say, even though I’m fine, I’m sort of glad you guys got to see that raw emotion, and we do touch on the mental side of things when it comes to everyone, not just fighters and athletes, anyone in general.” Volkanovski said. “I think that it’s good for awareness. I think these are conversations people should be having.”

UFC champ Volkanovski welcomed home with great support

Volkanovski may have lost but didn’t lose his supporters back home. It’s great to see his friends and family showing out for the champ.

“Yes, that was a surprise, I had no idea,” Alexander Volkanovski said of his reception. “I was walking out and I seen a few of my buddies. So it caught me by surprise. I choked up a little bit coming down, and I ended up holding it together over here. I’m doing alright. Obviously I really appreciate everyone. The support feels incredible.

“Thank everyone that’s hear. Obviously I can’t thank everyone, there’s that many people, but they’re probably going to be watching through this. Thank you, I appreciate it, it means a lot to me. Don’t worry, I’m all good. I’m gonna be back. I guarantee you that.”

Unfortunately for those of us wanting to see Alexander “The Great” at his very greatest, Volkankovski plans to fight against at UFC 297 in Toronto against Illia Topuria. That’s a tough enough challenge with plenty of time to prepare.

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About the author

Nate Wilcox


Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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