Why the stakes for Alex Volkanovski’s third bout with Max Holloway are higher than ever before
Posted On May 12, 2022
Alex Volkanovski can’t hear the doubters anymore and according to the UFC’s featherweight king nobody else will once he has conquered arch-rival Max Holloway for a third time and begun his quest to earn second championship belt.
Australia’s Alex Volkanovski can claim the title of greatest MMA featherweight of all time if he beats old rival Max Holloway for a third time
If he wins, Volkanovski will move up to lightweight in an effort to land a second UFC title
Volkanovski has won his last 21 fights and has defended the featherweight title three times
Volkanovski has already beaten the Hawaiian twice — once in dominant fashion to win the title in 2019 and again in a razor-close split decision the following year.
This time — when the two meet at UFC 276 in Las Vegas in July — the stakes are even higher.
Volkanovski won’t just retain the title if he wins, he’ll have an almost unassailable case as the greatest featherweight of all time, a contender for the UFC’s top pound-for-pound fighter and in prime position to move up and challenge for the lightweight title.
“What I plan on doing to Max puts me in a very, very good position going forward,” Volkanovski said.
“We talk about GOAT status in the featherweight division, number one pound-for-pound, then it’ll be a no-brainer to go up a division and look for a second belt.
“The question isn’t why would you do it — it’s why wouldn’t you. Even though I’m 2-0, people still want to see it.
“I’m not there to prove anything to anybody. But this is the biggest fight, people want to see it, so let’s do it.
“People are still trying to throw his name in the GOAT conversation — imagine going 3-0 against him, in his prime. I win this, there’s no question. There’s no question.
“I’m glad Max has looked so good since we’ve fought, because it makes me even more legit.”
Holloway has indeed been in superb form since his second loss to Volkanovski, dispatching respected contenders Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez in dominant fashion.
His presence as the top contender creates something of a roadblock for fighters heading after Volkanovski’s title – it’s hard for contenders to rise to title contention given there’s two championship-calibre fighters in the same division.
However, that’s what makes this the ideal time for Volkanovski to chase another title should he down Holloway again. A third win over Holloway will have cleared out the contenders at featherwright and a lightweight tilt would give time to up and coming contenders to rise to championship status.
The weekend’s chaos regarding former lightweight king Charles Olivieria, who was stripped of the title after he failed to make weight, creates a tantalising possibility of Volkanovski facing the Brazilian for the vacant title towards the end of the year.
Volkanovski says he still regards Olivieria as the champion, but he’ll campaign for a lightweight tilt regardless of who holds the belt.
“I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” he said.
“That’s exactly what the UFC are thinking as well. The timing of this fight will match up very well for a chance to be double-champ – it’s all falling into place to keep the hype going, keep the same energy.
“I’m levels above in the fight game, I want to be levels above with hype, put beatings on people, get pay checks, keep rolling.
“He’s (Olivieria) lucky in a sense, because everyone still thinks of him as the champion. I do, anyway. He’ll fight for the belt next anyway, he’ll pretty much be defending it, that’s how people will look at it.”
But first, Volkanovski must handle Holloway again.
It’ll be no easy feat, but the Australian is the only man to have beaten Holloway at featherweight since 2013 and believes the narrow margin of the second fight will not be repeated.
Given his blistering performance against Chan Sung-Jung in April, when he beat the breaks off the highly-respected veteran en route to a fourth round TKO victory, it’s easy to believe Volkanovski when he says he’s in the form of his fighting life.
“People might say he’s made improvements, but so have I, and if there was a time to beat me it was the second fight. I don’t make excuses, and I won’t go into why, but I didn’t show up and if there was a time to beat me that was it,” Volkanovski said.
“Now he’s getting me at my absolute peak, confidence at a high, my mental game is a whole different beast.
“The way I capitalise on opportunities is different, and we all know Max his hittable and you don’t want to be hittable against me right now.
“People say you learn from your losses. I don’t. People might look at my win over Zombie (Jung) and think there’s nothing to improve on, but there always is. Watching it back I always see things I can work on.
“There’s a reassurance that comes from performances like that, it shows we know what the f**k we’re talking about.”