Listen up.
Listen up.

This Aussie who could be a UFC champ on Sunday

IN AN interview with foxsports.com.au at the end of 2018, Alexander Volkanovski declared, "I'll be champion in 2019."

That statement came after the brawler out of Shellharbour, NSW downed Chad Mendes at UFC 232.

Before that prediction, an unranked Volkanovski told me at the start of 2018, "Early next year, I could definitely be right up there for a (title) shot."

Both claims would have been interpreted as delusions of grandeur to the casual UFC fan. Sure, Volkanovski was winning, but eventually he'd come unstuck, right?

Wrong.

Volkanovski was his own biggest fan - out of necessity at times - as he attempted to legitimise his dream, both inside and out of the Octagon.

He was supposed to be cut down to size against Mendes. The Australian finished the perennial contender in the second round.

Then, Jose Aldo was supposed to put him away in front of a Brazilian crowd that rose and fell with every strike the legend landed. Instead, Volkanovski nullified Aldo to the point where questions were raised about the Brazilian's career longevity.

Now, against Max Holloway at UFC 245, in a world title fight, Volkanovski must prove, once again, why betting against him would be downright irresponsible.

Max Holloway.
Max Holloway.

"He's going to do a lot of my work for me," Volkanovski told foxsports.com.au in Auckland a little over a week out from the biggest test of his career.

"I think you're going to really see the most wild, dangerous Alex you've ever seen."

That "wild" Volkanovski is coming out to play because he simply isn't afraid of Holloway's power.

And with a City Kickboxing cheat sheet in his back pocket, he's speaking with the same matter-of-fact confidence he did back in 2018, and the start of this year.

It was convincing then, and it's convincing now.

Volkanovski is a 168cm fighter with a longer reach than the 180cm Holloway, power in both hands, and a strength that probably comes from his days as a 90kg rugby league player.

His ability to put everything together is what separates him from others, and Holloway admits he's facing a new test in a guy who is 7-0 in the UFC, and showing no signs of slowing down.

"For my team, we find motivation when someone presents a new question, a new challenge," Holloway told foxsports.com.au. "That's what Alex does.

"I'm taller than Alex, but he has longer reach. He has more power than me, and we've never really had to face a guy with this kind of power.

"I'm excited. He doesn't get tired, he's always in your face, he's a gamer, and he's a No.1 contender for a reason."

Volkanovski is once again the underdog going into the Octagon, while those who have seen him prepare, and the man himself, are adamant he's going to spring a surprise.

At this point, it shouldn't be a surprise.

Watch UFC 245 on Sunday, December 15 (AEDT) on Main Event. ORDER NOW >

News Corp Australia


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