Alexander Volkanovski announced his presence as a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division with a dominant victory over Jeremy Kennedy at UFC 221 on Saturday night.
The 29-year-old Aussie overwhelmed his previously unbeaten opponent, outlanding Kennedy by a 105-to-11 count in total strikes en route to a technical knockout victory 4:57 into round two. The win improved Alexander “The Great” to 4-0 in the UFC and 17-1 overall, and he believes he has sent a message to the rest of the division.
“I haven’t lost a round. I’m walking through these opponents,” Volkanovski said. “No disrespect to my opponents, but I’m just too strong for this division. People think I should be a bantamweight, but look at what I’m doing to the strongest guys in this division. We were both 3-0. A lot of people don’t want to fight us grinders, so I’m a big threat to the division, and I think I got to show that today.”
The former Pacific Xtreme Combat champion took Kennedy down in both frames and landed ferocious ground-and-pound from above. One final volley of punches and elbows shattered Kennedy’s resolve just before round two expired. It was a somewhat surprising turn of events for Kennedy, who had landed a combined total of 21 takedowns in his first three UFC bouts.
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“I thought once I wore him down I’d be able to do well on the ground, but I felt so much stronger from the get go. I surprised myself,” Volkanovski said. “I have got a lot of confidence in myself, but I always expect people to be stronger, and I go out there and feel twice as strong. And he’s one of the strong guys in the division, known for grinding people down and wearing them out, and look at what I was able to do to him.”
Volkanovski appears to have set himself up for a higher-profile matchup, and he already has a couple names in mind.
“No one’s going to call me out after a performance like that. I pride myself on being a nice, loyal, respectful guy, but there’s a lot of people that try to make a name for themselves by talking a lot and trying to play that bully,” Volkanovski said. “Try to bully me and see what happens. Jeremy Stephens thinks everyone’s scared of him. I’ll stand right in front of him and see if he wants to go toe-to-toe with me. I’ll put the pressure on and I’ll break him. [Andre] ‘Touchy’ Fili doesn’t talk too much, but he likes to call people out and do all the Twitter stuff. Bring it on.”
Stephens is currently booked against Josh Emmett in the UFC on Fox 28 headliner on Feb. 24. Fili, meanwhile, is coming off a split-decision triumph over Dennis Bermudez at UFC on Fox 27 on Jan. 27.
Fili didn’t take long to respond to the callout, as he wasn’t particularly pleased with the “bully” label:
All my life I’ve been rep’n for the outcasts, never been a bully. @alexvolkanovski I see you hiding behind fake humility. Go fuck yourself.— Andre Fili (@TouchyFili) February 11, 2018