‘Stop beating my contenders’ — Alexander Volkanovski tells Max Holloway to ‘get out of my division’

Alexander Volkanovski is tired of hearing Holloway's footsteps behind him.

By: Zane Simon | 1 month ago
‘Stop beating my contenders’ — Alexander Volkanovski tells Max Holloway to ‘get out of my division’
Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway exchange words at the UFC 276 weigh-ins. | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Alexander Volkanovski needs title challengers. The king of the featherweight division has defended his belt four times since winning it off Max Holloway in 2019. However, half those defenses have come against none other than the Hawaiian himself. That kind of repeat booking should leave ‘The Great’ with a wide open field to choose from among men he hasn’t beat. But, there’s just one problem—Holloway can’t stop getting his Road House on and bouncing guys before they can get to gold.

Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar, Arnold Allen? Alexander Volkanovski hasn’t faced any of them, yet. But Max Holloway has, and he sent each one packing. In a recent interview with the Mac Life, the Aussie joked about the frustrations of having a top contender like Holloway hanging around in his division.

Alexander Volkanovski had a lot of praise for Holloway after his latest win

“Yeah, you’re right. Obviously, the more contenders you have, the better,” Alexander Volkanovski explained, speaking of Holloway fighting the top guys at 145. “He was on a ten-fight win streak—Arnold Allen—so, if he was to take out Max, you could imagine everyone screaming his name. Again, I would obviously—if this fight does happen with Yair—I would need to get over that first. But, I mean, you got some things lined up. That’s what I want. I want to be busy.

“So, having that would have been great. But, you know, Max, he’s again—I dunno. People, because they’ve seen our match, expect—you hear people be like, ‘Oh, he wasn’t himself,’ or ‘He’s fallen off.’ And you just sit there. Like, I know it’s not that. I know it was the man in front of him. And he just showed that, like, yesterday. A game opponent like Arnold Allen, and Max looked great. I’ve got nothing but praise for Max. He showed experience, he showed durability—as always—but definitely added a few more things to his game as well…

“That’s why, I remember saying to him after the last fight…I just said to him, I go ‘Get out of my division! Stop beating up my contenders!’ You know what I mean? I’m saying stuff like that to him. Because again, I know a lot of people are gonna sit there and, before last night, and ‘Oh, you know, he’s fallen off’ and all this stuff. I’m like, ‘Nah, it’s not that. Trust me.’ Wait until he fights again, because you’re gonna forget about that the next time. And he proved it last night. He looked great.”

Alexander Volkanovski went on to explain that, especially after going 3-0 against Holloway, he no longer feels like another bout with his longtime rival makes sense. But, he’s not closing the door on the idea permanently.

“You feel bad too, like, in that situation, like ‘Why does that guy gotta be here and be in my damn division?’ Alexander Volkanovski admitted. “So you can just imagine that I’m feeling just—obviously Max a cool dude, as well, great fighter. It’s just, whether you’re going to go there…it’s hard enough to do a trilogy when you’re 2-0. A lot of people were like, ‘What are you doing? Why?’ Where obviously now, the third one, it doesn’t make sense. It’s a tricky situation for Max, that’s for sure. But, I guess, what do you say? You never know.”

Yair Rodriguez has fought his way to top contender status

Fortunately, in the meantime—and despite his loss to Holloway—Yair Rodriguez has rebounded exceptionally well, and put himself in position for his chance at gold. Back at UFC 284 in February, ‘El Pantera’ faced off against Josh Emmett in the co-main event of UFC 284 with an interim featherweight title on the line. Not because Alexander Volkanovski was sitting idle. Far from it.

Volkanovski was competing in the main event that night, up a division, in hopes of capturing his second consecutive UFC belt with a bout against champion Islam Makhachev. The bid for glory didn’t work out for him, but with Rodriguez now sitting on his own piece of hardware, the champ has a ready made top contender that’s finally someone other than his Gracie Technics-trained rival.

While it seemed Alexander Volkanovski was still a little tentative on the certainty of the booking in his Mac Life interview, the fight with Rodriguez has already been scheduled. The two are expected to meet in the main event of UFC 290, on July 8th, as the crowning bout of the International Fight Week fan expo. A flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja has also been scheduled for the event.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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