Joe Rogan is no stranger to hype. The longtime UFC commentator and podcasting star famously brought fans in to the (short lived) “Machida Era” at UFC 98 back in 2009 and let everyone know that Houston Alexander was “for real” after his TKO win over Alessio Sakara. But that doesn’t mean that all his calls are wild hyperbole.
After all, just because the man was there for the meteoric rise and fall of Cody Garbrandt doesn’t mean he wasn’t also there for the glory days of Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, or Demetrious Johnson. And now, he’s playing witness to another seemingly surefire future MMA legend.
Joe Rogan still feels Alexander Volkanovski is the P4P best
Alexander Volkanovski’s rise to champion didn’t come with a mountain of trash talk. He wasn’t an overnight sensation or ‘the next big thing’. The former rugy player and Greco-Roman wrestler entered the UFC with an outstanding 13-1 MMA record, and had to rattle off another seven consecutive victories before getting his shot at champion Max Holloway.
It was really only around the time of his victory over Chad Mendes in 2018, that fans started to think Volkanovski might really have what it takes to be a top contender. The years since, however, have painted a far clearer picture of a world class talent head and shoulders above most of his peers.
Volkanovski is 5-1 since winning gold against Holloway at UFC 245. With his only loss coming against current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, pushing his overall record to 25-2. Fresh off a 3rd round TKO victory over Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 back in July, it’s the kind of resume that has Rogan saying that even despite losing to Makhachev, Volkanovski is still the best fighter in the world today.
In fact, Rogan maintains that, by all rights, the Aussie shouldn’t even be carrying that black mark on his record.
“He’s No. 1 pound-for-pound. They have him as not pound-for-pound (No. 1 in the UFC) because he lost that fight (to Islam Makhachev),” Rogan explained in a recent episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I think you could make a real argument that he won that fight. I think he won the fight. In my mind, he won the fight.”
“He did more damage. I think he imposed his skill set. It’s also insanely impressive that he goes up from (featherweight) to fight a massive (lightweight). That guy is as big at (155 pounds) as anybody is, and at the end of the fight, (Volkanovski) is on top beating him up.”
“He drops him, gets on top of him and had massive moments throughout the fight.”
More than anything, Rogan seems to feel that the fight exposed more vulnerability in Makhachev than it did in the City Kickboxing star. Despite Volkanovski giving up takedowns and getting clipped early in the fight, it was the Dagestani who looked to be fading hard down the stretch.
“You kind of see vulnerability in Islam after that fight with Volkanovski,” Rogan said.
“First of all, you see how good Volkanovski really is. F****** animal. [But] it sort of gives an air of vulnerability with Islam where before people were like, ‘This guy’s unstoppable.’”
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Alexander Volkanovski still targeting Makhachev rematch
Most likely, Alexander Volkanovski is on his way to a booking against Ilia Topuria sometime early in 2024. However, even with a top contender on the horizon, the 35-year-old still has his eyes firmly focused on a potential rematch against Islam Makhachev, potential even as soon as UFC 300 in April.
“You got the Ilia fight that’s always going to be there,” Volkanovski told reporters during a media scrum at UFC 293 (transcript via MMA Junkie). “You got that rematch that I want (vs. Makhachev). I want to be active. Obviously, Islam and Charles (Oliveira) are going at it soon, so I don’t want to be waiting around.
“So, I’ll do early next year, I think. I wanted this year, but I think the schedule is just not going to be able to fit me in. I think there’s a few champions that need to be fighting, which is fair, but I would’ve been happy to get one in this year.”
“I think that makes a lot of sense,” Volkanovski added when asked about the potential of facing Makhachev at UFC 300. “Yeah, for sure. I think that would be great, especially with me getting my hand raised on that one for UFC 300 would be perfect. But again, we will see what we can do. But I think that’s one of the bigger fights that you can make. I truly do believe that. A lot of people want to see that again. It was very, very competitive, and I guarantee you I get it done next time.”
Considering the massive victory that Justin Gaethje recently picked up over Dustin Poirier back at UFC 291, it seems a lot more likely that the ‘Highlight’ is going to be in line for a shot at the Makhachev/Oliveira winner than Volk is. Dana White has had a longtime distaste for champions jumping divisions when there are challengers waiting in the wings, and Topuria looks every bit the part of a legit title challenger. If Volk really does want to stay active, it seems a lot more likely that his next fight will be down at 145 lbs, with his belt on the line.
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