Alexander Volkanovski has defended teammate Israel Adesanya following ‘The Last Stylebender’s’ recent middleweight title defense against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276.
Adesanya beat ‘The Killa Gorilla’ to retain his title but has come under fire for not finishing the fight. Some fans argue that his Octagon walkout (see here) was more entertaining than the fight itself.
Adesanya and Volkanovski both feel the criticism is misdirected and unfair, with Volkanovski blaming Cannonier for not bringing the fight to the champ. According to ‘The Great,’ the onus should be on the challenger — not the champion — to ‘take all the risks’ and look for the finish.
“Of course it is [unfair]. It’s going to happen every time. Every time you have tough fights,” Volkanovski, who is training partners with Adesanya at City Kickboxing, told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting). “The thing is, people need to understand when someone only has a puncher’s chance, and that is all they’re looking for. Come on, man. Why does a champion have to take all the risks? Why does he have to come forward when he knows someone is waiting for a big shot? The person, the challenger, obviously if things aren’t going their way — and I’m not having a shot at Cannonier — I think they need to make something happen. I don’t think it’s up to the champ to make something happen.”
“Everyone knows that they need to try and get in on Izzy,” he added. “Sitting back and just letting Izzy piece you up on the outside, I believe that’s totally on the challenger. Put it this way: If he had done that little bit more, it would have been a completely different fight, and then everyone would have been talking about how great of a knockout [it was]. That’s the thing, people quickly forget.”
Volkanovski thinks most people will ‘quickly forget’ their criticism of Adesanya after the Nigerian star avenges his two kickboxing losses to Alex Pereira and KO’s the former GLORY two-division champion in the UFC.
“I’m not having a shot at everyone. At the end of the day, people are going to remember how many defenses you had,” Volkanovski said. “Look, he goes and fights [Alex] Pereira and knocks him clean out, you think they’re going to be talking about that one [against Cannonier]? No, they’re going to quickly forget and he’s going to be glad he didn’t take any stupid, unnecessary risks to please a couple of people. Obviously I’m sticking up for my boy, but I think that’s fair. I think that’s how it is. That is going to happen sometimes.”
“People will quickly forget. Same as [Kamaru] Usman,” Volkanovski said. “People were giving him criticism and now he’s going and knocking people out, and that’s it — now he’s the man, and well-deserved. They should be looking at him like that. I think Izzy’s going to go do his thing against Pereira and then everyone’s going to be all over him.”
Adesanya is expected to defend his middleweight title against ‘Poatan’ by late 2022 or early next year.
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