UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski sees no controversy in how Yair Rodríguez won against Brian Ortega at UFC Long Island this past July.
Rodríguez notched a first-round TKO over Ortega after ’T-City’ dislocated his shoulder during an exchange on the ground. Though it went down as a win for ‘El Pantera,’ there was discourse around its legitimacy, considering it came as a result of an unfortunate injury.
Volkanovski told Daniel Cormier recently that there should be no question about that win because it was legitimate. But ‘The Great’ was unsure if it was enough to get Rodriguez the championship opportunity he has continued to ask for in its aftermath.
“It is a tricky one,” said Volkanovski. “At the end of the day, for people to act like it’s not a win is just ridiculous. It’s a win. It’s a legitimate win. The problem here was, obviously you have so many people screaming for the title shot, ‘I want this and I want that.’ And at the end of the day, people need to go and earn it. People need to go out there and take that spot.
“I literally made that clear,” continued Volkanovski. “I even said, ‘A big win — a big win gets you a title shot. And I said that same thing with the Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett fight. It just so happened to be — obviously, it was a close fight with Calvin Kattar and things like that. And then this one happened, which is unfortunate for both guys. It really is. Again, I’m injured and this is the difference for me. I’m a nice guy, but sometimes I want to go, ‘Get your s—t together, man.’”
Rodriguez and Emmett have earned wins over Ortega and Kattar, but because neither has emerged as a clear No. 1 contender, Volkanovski has now shifted his focus to a new challenge at lightweight.
The City Kickboxing product reiterated his desire to be the backup for the upcoming championship fight between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi. He is still recovering from the broken thumb he suffered in his recent defense against Max Holloway at UFC 276, but Volkanovski said he should be ready to go if something were to happen to either Oliveira or Mackhachev.
“I’m actually thinking, believe it or not – I’m thinking of, because I’m still training, of being if they need a backup fighter, I’m gonna be the guy that’s gonna be there,” said Volkanovski. “I’m telling them I want to be there. I want to be the backup. I’m going to be fit enough, I’m going to get enough of a camp to stay in good enough fitness, and I’ll do it. That’s the type of guy I am.”
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