Former two-division champion Henry Cejudo believes Alexander Volkanovski may have unintentionally exposed himself following his devastating loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 294.
After narrowly dethroning the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ in their February Fight of the Year contender, Volkanovski accepted a rematch on just 11 days’ notice, stepping in for Makhachev’s originally scheduled UFC 294 opponent, Charles Oliveira. Despite the short-notice nature of the matchup, ‘The Great’ went into the bout with the utmost confidence.
Tragically, Volkanovski would come crashing back down to reality just three minutes into the contest when Islam Makhachev landed a perfectly timed head kick that spelled the end of Volkanovski’s dreams to become a dual-world champion.
Following the event, an emotional Alexander Volkanovski revealed his “struggle” to remain active inside the Octagon, even in the most unfavorable of situations.
“I put myself in his position,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “I think the biggest mistake that Alexander could do is share a lot of who he is as a person to the people. Why do I say that? ‘I’m going through anxieties, I need to stay busy guys, I go crazy if I don’t stay busy or if I don’t fight.’ If I’m a competitor and I’m seeing all that, especially seeing him get knocked out, you know what I’m gonna be doing? I’m gonna be picking at him.”
“If I’m Ilia [Topuria], if I know that he’s concussed, and I know that he goes crazy when he’s not fighting or he’s at home or he goes through anxiety. If I’m Ilia Topuria, you guys know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking about calling this dude out and getting him to step up still on January 20th to have a better chance of actually beating him. You see, there’s times when you’ve gotta keep things to yourself. When you don’t keep things to yourself, you start to expose yourself” (h/t MMA Mania).
Henry Cejudo Urges Volkanovski to take him time
Despite the setback in Abu Dhabi, Volkanovski remains in talks to defend his featherweight title against No. 5 ranked contender Ilia Topuria at UFC 297 on January 20 in Toronto. That would give ‘The Great’ less than three months to prepare for what could very well be the toughest test of his reign as the 145-pound champion.
“If I’m Ilia Topuria on the flip side, you know what I’m thinking? I have to pick a fight with him,” Cejudo continued. “I have to get him to fight me on January 20th because the simple fact that he’s concussed. He’s concussed, it’s not the same Alexander Volkanovski that was out here finishing all these opponents … he’s not the same guy.
“If I’m Alexander Volkanovski on the flip side, you know what I’m doing? I gotta humble myself,” Cejudo said. “I gotta allow my brain to heal for the next six months. I’ve been concussed. Being concussed or going through a knockout, it takes you a minute for you to really kind of start walking that straight line. So there’s two sides. Volk, take your damn time. I wouldn’t necessarily be in a rush. You’re gonna have to humble yourself. Yeah, I’m saying humble yourself because it shouldn’t be about ego or pride. It should be about winning.”
The UFC is expected to make an announcement regarding UFC 297 in the coming weeks.