Alexander Volkanovski Provides Potential Timeline For 'Likely' Next Title Defense Against Ilia Topuria
While Oceania may have lost one champion this past weekend Down Under, another remains repping the region with gold in hand on mixed martial arts’ biggest stage.
That individual is Alexander Volkanovski, the reigning UFC featherweight champion. Since his crowning in December 2019, the 34-year-old has made five successful defenses of the title.
His most recent retention came this past July at UFC 290, an event he headlined alongside then-interim champ Yair Rodríguez. While the Mexican’s unique and eccentric striking style was predicted to pose a new threat to Volkanovski, he passed the test with flying colors.
After finishing “El Pantera” via third-round TKO, Volkanovski’s attention turned to a desired third outing of the year. The options appeared to be a rematch and second crack at achieving ‘champ-champ’ status against Islam Makhachev or another 145-pound defense, this time against the undefeated Ilia Topuria.
With Charles Oliveira getting first dibs on a second dance with Makhachev, Volkanovski’s next step will likely be a showdown with “El Matador.” But it won’t be coming as soon as the Aussie had hoped…
Volkanovski Pushes Timeline For UFC Return Back
While in attendance at the UFC 293 pay-per-view in Sydney this past weekend, Volkanovski answered questions from the media, many of which surrounded his return to action.
After confirming that he’ll likely be making the walk with Topuria awaiting him in the Octagon next time out, Volkanovski noted that his push for the fight to happen by the end of the year looks set to fall short. That’s owing to the backlog of title bouts the UFC is hoping to put together.
“Yeah, most likely (it will be Topuria),” Volkanovski said. “Again, I wanna be active. I don’t wanna be waiting around… Rather than me waiting for a (lightweight) title shot anyway, just keep me busy. I’ll fight… I’ve got full confidence in me doing my work in that featherweight division with Ilia.
“I’m really looking forward to that one. It’s exciting,” Volkanovski said. “Early next year I think. I wanted this year, but I just think the schedule’s not gonna be able to fit me in. There are a few champions that need to be fighting, which is fair. I would have been happy to get one in this year. I really want three this year, but it’s not looking likely. Early next year we’ll get it in.”
Volkanovski will be hoping to bag one of the earliest spots on offer in 2023 in order to keep his timeline closely matched with the lightweight champion.
Although “Alexander the Great” fell short of two-division glory this past February in Perth, the close and competitive nature of his bout against Makhachev has seemingly left another opportunity at the 155-pound gold inevitable should he remain on the featherweight throne.
The next man looking to stall those higher ambitions, however, may well be the most challenging to date.
Volkanovski exchanges words with Ilia Topuria after our #UFC290 main event! 👀 pic.twitter.com/JNmoRJlm8c
— UFC (@ufc) July 9, 2023
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