This past weekend’s UFC 294 pay-per-view event marked a difficult one for featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, who suffered his second defeat of the year.
Volkanovski previously had his promotional record blemished for the first time by Islam Makhachev this past February in Perth, where the Australian narrowly fell short of two-division glory on the scorecards.
Following the withdrawal of Charles Oliveira less than two weeks out from the October 21 event in Abu Dhabi, “Alexander the Great” stepped up to save the headliner and have his second crack at joining the UFC’s ‘champ-champ’ club.
Unfortunately for Volkanovski, his ambitions were emphatically halted by Makhachev, who recorded a much more convincing victory over his 145-pound counterpart second time around courtesy of a first-round head kick.
In the aftermath, Volkanovski spoke openly about his mental health struggles while away from the cage. He admitted that accepting the short-notice opportunity in the Middle East was more out of necessity than logic.
While the Aussie has been widely praised and supported for opening up, with many discussions focusing on the mental health implications that a career in fighting brings with it, one ex-UFC champion sees things differently.
Cejudo Warns Volkanovski Against ‘Exposing’ Himself
During a video recently uploaded to his YouTube channel, former flyweight and bantamweight UFC champ Henry Cejudo gave his take on Volkanovski’s post-fight admission.
“Triple C” suggested that the featherweight kingpin’s difficulty coping away from fight camp was something he should have kept to himself. Now that he’s “exposed” himself, Cejudo thinks his likely next opponent Ilia Topuria has an opening to exploit.
“Where does Alex go from here? I put myself in his position and I think the biggest mistake that Alexander could do is share a lot of who he is as a person with the people,” Cejudo said. “‘I’m going through anxieties, I need to stay busy guys, I go crazy if I don’t stay busy.’ If I’m a competitor and I’m seeing that… You know what I’m gonna be doing? I’m gonna be picking at him.
“If I’m Ilia Topuria, I’m thinking about calling this dude out and still getting him to step up on January 20 to have a better chance of actually beating him,” Cejudo continued. “There’s times, man, when you’ve gotta keep things to yourself. When you don’t keep things to yourself, you start to expose yourself.”
With that in mind, Cejudo had further advice for Volkanovski.
Despite the Aussie’s plan to make a quick turnaround to defend his belt against “El Matador” in Toronto next January, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist insisted that more time off is needed following this past weekend’s knockout.
“If I’m Alexander Volkanovski, you know what I’m doing? I gotta humble myself. I gotta allow my brain to heal for the next six months,” Cejudo advised. “Being concussed or going through a knockout, it takes you a minute to really start walking that straight line… Volk, take your damn time.”
In a recent social media post that featured an image of him posing alongside Makhachev, Volkanovski noted that his attention will soon turn to his next challenge on MMA’s biggest stage.
If Cejudo and the likes of ex-Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson have their way, that’ll come further into 2024 than Volkanovski is hoping for.
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