All signs are pointing toward a featherweight championship rematch at UFC 251, and that’s exactly what Alexander Volkanovski wants.
Volkanovski claimed the 145-pound belt with a five-round verdict over Max Holloway in the UFC 245 co-main event on Dec. 14, ending the Hawaiian’s streak of successful title defenses at three. In an interview with TMZ Sports, the Australian champion reiterated a point he made at the UFC 245 post-fight press conference: A return date with “Blessed” is the best available option.
“I think so. Obviously, that’s what UFC wants. That’s what Dana White is saying that’s what he wants. I think I want that fight because there’s no clear No. 1 contenders,” Volkanovski said. “He’s a great champion. And for me, the biggest fight in my career right now, to solidify myself as the best featherweight of all time and one of the greatest of all time, I’ve got to take out Max twice in his prime. People are gonna give me that respect I deserve.
“Again, I want to fight on home soil. I want to fight in Perth,” he added. “I don’t want to wait around til there’s a clear No. 1. I think Max is deserving, he’s a great champion. The UFC would want it. Australian fans would want it, and I think everyone else would want that.”
The rematch has long been rumored for UFC 251 in Perth on June 6, but the fight has not been formally announced by the Las Vegas-based promotion. If it comes to fruition, it would join a women’s flyweight title tilt pitting reigning champ Valentina Shevchenko against Joanne Calderwood. For now, Volkanovski says, nothing is official.
“I reckon we’re gonna make it happen. Nothing’s a done deal,” he said. “We haven’t even had those talks. I just got cleared [from a broken hand suffered at UFC 245]. Some people are gonna say, is it to early for me to get back in? But I don’t want to sit on the sidelines too long. And I want to defend my belt in Australia. That Perth card is June 6. We’re gonna make it happen.”
While both Volkanovski and Holloway seemed to share a mutual respect for one another after the first fight, the Hawaiian did seem to think he did enough to get the nod from the cageside judges in December.
“First round, I was feeling him out, so he did what he did in the first round,” Holloway said at the UFC 245 post-fight press conference. “Second round I thought I was taking over and then three, four, five, I thought was mine. But they saw it another way, there’s only three opinions that matter.”
The general consensus was that Volkanovski controlled the majority of the bout, using leg kicks to keep his opponent at bay and never truly allowing Holloway to unleash his trademark volume. The new champ acknowledges that the fight was competitive, but he remains confident that he controlled the majority of the action.
“I could see why he might’ve thought that. I think once he watched back the tape, he would’ve changed his mind a little bit,” Volkanovski said. “I think he would’ve seen that I won. Obviously, it was still competitive, but I believe I won every round. I do truly believe that.”
“I know the game and I just believe I had control in all aspects. I think I was landing the bigger shots. Not only a lot more strikes, bigger shots. Every time we exchanged, I usually got the upper hand. Again, I broke my hand in that fight as well, so a lot of people thought I was slowing down toward the end. Obviously, I knew I had that fight won.”
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