Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski aims to silence any doubters at UFC 298.
Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) defends his title against unbeaten Ilia Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) on Feb. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Topuria has predicted a first-round finish of Volkanovski, who warn of being overconfident.
“This guy thinks he’s the man,” Volkanovski said on the “Who The Fook Are These Guys” podcast. “It’s funny. For me, I’ve always wanted to earn my stripes, earn these positions, put myself in there, and earn that respect. This guy’s just getting things given to him and probably not even that much, but he thinks he’s the man. The beautiful thing about it is I get to teach a kid a lesson. Ready to go out there, I want to teach him a lesson, humble him a little bit, and still let him wake up to himself and then he can bounce back when my time’s done.
“He needs a bit of humbling. Twenty-six, perfect age. He needs the world to see, a little humbling experience for him. He maybe needs a bit of embarrassment and snap things into gear and then maybe he can one day be a great champion. Right now he wants to act like how he’s acting, I’m just going to teach him a lesson. I’m going to embarrass him. He’s young enough to bounce back in a positive way. I’ll play teacher the next few months.”
Looking to rebound from his knockout loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 294, Volkanovski is aware of the doubt surrounding him. He appeared vulnerable and emotional in his post-fight speech, but Volkanovski vows he’s more than ready to continue defending his featherweight throne.
“If people are going to see weakness, if my opponents think that’s weakness – the beautiful thing is I had mixed emotions about people seeing me like that. Then I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m glad I did because it was a positive, I believe,’” Volkanovski said. “There’s a lot of people that needed to see that. Not just that, people get to see what happens next. I hope these people are seeing it as weakness. Watch me walk through my next opponents. Watch me do what I’m going to do and shut these people up.
“Then all of the sudden, I can literally look at these people and be like, ‘Shut your mouth. That’s right, I am still that guy.’ You might see me vulnerable, but don’t forget I’m the – hey, one day I might be a little vulnerable, you might see me there covering my face at that one point, but the next week I’m the baddest man on the planet. You remember that. And some people need to be reminded. The beautiful thing about it is I get to remind them not too far away.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.