On Saturday, UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski will make the walk to the Octagon for his second opportunity at achieving two-division glory on mixed martial arts’ biggest stage.
Volkanovski previously shot for the lightweight belt this past February in front of his home fans Down Under in Perth. While the Australian was more competitive than many had predicted, it was ultimately reigning titleholder Islam Makhachev who departed the RAC Arena with the belt still in his possession.
Initially, it appeared that the 145-pound kingpin’s calls for a rematch had fallen on deaf ears, with Charles Oliveira instead receiving a chance to exact revenge on the Dagestani for the defeat he suffered last October.
But with the Brazilian sustaining a significant cut in training, Volkanovski received a surprise call-up just 12 days out from this weekend’s event in the Middle East.
Although the short-notice nature of the UFC 294 matchup has left many once again doubting the challenger’s chances, a man who knows Volkanovski well has warned against such a mindset.
Holloway Warns Against Volkanovski Being ‘Counted Out’
During a video recently uploaded to his YouTube channel, former UFC featherweight titleholder Max Holloway gave his take on Volkanovski’s upcoming second ‘champ-champ’ charge.
“Blessed” is familiar with his 145-pound peer’s talents, having shared the cage with and been defeated by “Alexander the Great” on three separate occasions since late 2019.
With that in mind, he believes Volkanovski’s chances of victory are being wrongly dismissed, as proved by underdog odds that he strongly questioned.
“This is a crazy odd. +270? Alex Volkanovski vs. Islam, these odds are wild,” Holloway said. “I’m just saying, bro, the way the last fight went — I understand this guy’s coming off 10 days not training, but if you know Alex, you know he’s always in the gym, you know he’s always ready.
“He’s one off those guys that’s been trying to fight as much as he can, as much as possible… We’ll see what happens,” Holloway continued. “I think that Alex shows up from the fifth round (at UFC 284) and it’s gonna be a tough fight. A lot of people are counting Alex out, which is just ridiculous…. This is a tougher fight than a lot of people are (expecting).”
Volkanovski will hope to prove his former featherweight rival right and the current odds wrong when he takes to the Octagon inside Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena on October 21.
Should he accomplish that feat, Volkanovski’s triumph would no doubt go down as one of, if not the, greatest instances of two-division glory of all time.
That's a wrap on Media Day #InAbuDhabi! 📸
Only three days left to #UFC294![ Saturday at 2pmET / 11amPT | Live on ESPN+ PPV | @InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabi ] pic.twitter.com/McC6Tt6yOf
— UFC (@ufc) October 18, 2023
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