UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski sees two options for his next title defense but not until they each fight one more time.
Volkanovski retained his title by edging Max Holloway in their rematch at UFC 251 and is now ready to welcome a new crop of challengers. But Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) has been vocal about his discontent toward the division’s lack of activity, with the majority of the top five yet to compete in 2020.
Volkanovski sees Chan Sung Jung and Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) as the two top contender, but insists that they should fight at least one more time to cement themselves as No. 1 contenders.
“‘Zombie’ keeps running his mouth, even though he’s got another one before him,” Volkanovski told Submission Radio. “But I mean, still, that’s always intriguing, that’s a fun fight. You know he’s just going to look for the finish, which, again, if someone is just going to be aggressive like that, that’s good for me. That’s a fun fight. Same with even Zabit, as well. I think they’re the two frontrunners, Zabit and ‘Zombie.’ But again, they just need a fight. Someone just needs a fight, get an impressive win, and I guarantee you everyone’s going to be screaming their name.
“I guarantee you, if ‘Zombie’ knocks out Ortega, or Zabit knocks out or does a crazy submission to Yair Rodriguez, I guarantee you. Guys are gonna be like, ‘That’s the fight I want.’ You guys will be, everyone will be. So, that’s the fight I want. I want an exciting fight, and I want a person that everyone goes, ‘This has to be the guy. He’s gonna do it.’ Man, I hope I’m the underdog. I mean, I love it. I love people saying this is the guy that’s going to take him out, and then I go out and prove them wrong again.”
He believes Jung’s manager has been controlling “The Korean Zombie’s” social media and sees why Ortega got into an altercation with Jung’s team earlier in the year.
“I want the bullies, but at the same time, it seems like the bullies are his manager or something, which already got a good slapping from Ortega, so they shut up for a while,” Volkanovski said. “‘Zombie’s’ a pretty cool dude, but if he’s gonna let his team run their mouths, he deserves a beating for it, as well. But definitely. That’s a good fight. But with Ortega saying he doesn’t believe ‘Zombie,’ you can’t really believe him for saying that because supposedly ‘Zombie’ can fight me but can’t fight Ortega.
“So, it just doesn’t really make sense. So, he’s calling me out saying he wants to fight me and blah, blah, blah, but at the same time telling Ortega that he’s got these restrictions, and he can’t fight. So, you can see where Ortega’s coming with that.”
Volkanovski hopes to squeeze one more fight in before the end of the year, but understands that it might not be feasible due to the heavy restrictions in these uncertain COVID-19 times. After defeating Holloway, Volaknovski had to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel room upon his arrival in Sydney.
“End of the year,” Volkanovski said. “You know what I mean? End of the year, I think that’s pretty realistic. Again, we’re in pretty challenging times, so to go ‘let’s do one right away’ and go through all the protocols, it wasn’t easy. This camp was different, very different. There was a lot of hurdles you had to jump the whole way through, and to just do that right away would be quite annoying.
“But let’s see at the end of the year if things quiet down, and things ease up a little bit, maybe the process will be easier. But if not, if the protocols are the same, at least I’ll be eager to fight, and I’ll be like, ‘Who cares? Let’s just get this out of the way. I want to fight.’”