Alexander Volkanovski reviews UFC title challenger Ilia Topuria

As he gears up for his next defense, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is keeping a close eye on emerging challengers in his division.

By: Kristen King | 3 months ago

Alexander Volkanovski says Ilia Topuria has caught his attention after his most recent win. This past Saturday, ‘El Matador’ emerged as a potential challenger for the ‘Great’ after defeating Josh Emmett at UFC Jacksonville. Shortly after snagging a dominant victory, Topuria expressed interest in two options for his next fight: wait for Volkanovski or fight Max Holloway

“Busy, not busy, I don’t know if [Volkanovski is] busy,” said Topuria at his post-fight press conference. “I’m the next guy in the line, I can wait. One of the best skills I have is patience. If they offer me to fight with Max Holloway in Spain, let’s do it. If not, I’m going to wait for my title shot. That’s all.”

Alexander Volkanovski ready for Ilia Topuria as next challenger

If Ilia Topuria wants to wait, then that is perfect for Alexander Volkanovski, who wants to stay active after his next defense. The 34-year-old is set to return to the Octagon for a unification bout against Yair Rodríguez at UFC 290, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for July 8 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

Should he get through who he deems as ‘one of the most dangerous fighters’ he has ever fought, Volkanovski is all-in on a potential fight with Topuria. 

“I’m hearing a lot of people mentioning other guys, Ilia fighting other guys—I’m like, ‘No, don’t do it. Just give me a guy. Give me a contender,’” said Volkanovski on an episode of DC & RC recently. “To be honest, again, I’m not going to say too much. Obviously I think he’s a good fighter. But the more I speak, the less I’m going to hype up the fight. I think he’s great.

“I think it’s a great fight and that would work well on some people, but won’t work well on others,” continued Volkanovski. “I want [new] guys. I want to be active. I was at a stage where I was like, ‘Give me the No. 1 guy.’ We’ve sort of cleared them. We don’t have them. Everyone’s raving on about this guy. I’ve got Yair to worry about. I’ll worry about that first, because, again, I see him as a much bigger threat than Ilia. I’ll make sure I go out there and do my business, and then if that’s on the cards—again, I want to be active.”

Topuria likes his chances against Alexander Volkanovski

When discussing the idea of his first UFC championship opportunity, Ilia Topuria was confident he would dethrone Alexander Volkanovski. Four other challengers, including Max Holloway, Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung, have failed in their attempts, but the Georgian-Spanish fighter says he can get it done. 

“No one can match my level of skill inside the cage,” said Topuria. “I think everyone agrees with me. I know that I can finish anyone in this division. Josh was tough tonight, but I beat him pretty easy and it’s not going to be different with Alex. 

“The result is going to be the same,” he continued. “I’m going to knock him out in the first round, second round. If not, I’m going to dominate him for five rounds, no problem.”

Since his arrival to the UFC, Topuria has gone the distance twice against Youssef Zalal and now, Josh Emmett. In his other UFC appearances, the 26-year-old finished Damon Jackson, Ryan Hall, Jai Herbert and Bryce Mitchell. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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