At UFC 251 Alex Volkanovski defended his Featherweight crown in a rematch against former champion Max Holloway. Though the decision was razor thin in the end the Aussie retained his title via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) & although MMA fans everywhere thought Holloway did enough to regain the title this result was far from a robbery.
With 2 wins to Volkanovski against one of the best Featherweights of the modern era it would seem very strange that Dana White would be considering a 3rd bout between the 2 fighters however that is what White is hinting at as he discussed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto:
“Well, here’s the thing,” White said to Brett Okamoto of ESPN (via Nolan King of MMA Junkie). “Calvin Kattar just fought. Yair Rodriguez has a fight coming up. (Korean) ‘Zombie’ has a fight coming up. Ortega and Zabit – all of these guys are going to fight in the next couple of months here. We’ll see how that all plays out. It’s hard to not say we can give Max a rematch for that fight again – do it a third time. I think all of the fans and the media would agree with that. I don’t know for sure.”
I’m sure Volkanovski doesn’t love that idea,” White said. “He’s like, ‘Listen, I just beat this guy twice. You know?’ And if you’re Volkanovski, you’re like, ‘Guess what? The media aren’t judges. Dana White is not a judge. None of these people are judges. The people that are assigned to judge the fight say I won twice.’ So if you’re Volkanovski, I get it. And if you’re Volkanovski, you probably want to take a look at a different guy. I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to Volkanovski about it. It’s something I definitely need to do. We’ll see how this thing plays out.”
“It’s pretty clear that like, you win back-to-back, two wins in a row. To make a third one, it just doesn’t really make sense, especially right now.”
“Again, we know that last fight was close, but the judges gave me the decision, and that’s that. And in the first fight, even though it was competitive, I pretty clearly won that fight. So, to just give him another rematch straight away and put the division on hold, it just doesn’t make any sense. . .
“It was a close fight, and I understand why people want to see the fight again, but at the same time, I won twice back to back. So, it just doesn’t really make sense right now. It’s something that it can definitely be a big fight in the future as well. But for right now, I’ve got a division that I want to hold and I don’t want to keep on hold. So, I want number one contenders, I want some fresh blood in there. So, we’ll see who that is.”
Volkanovski specifically named Chan Sung Jung & Zabit Magomedsharipov as potential opponents but dismissed a bout with former Flyweight & Bantamweight Champion, Henry Cejudo.
“I’ve got a division to hold and I’ve got my eye on the division, I want these number one contenders,” Volkanovski said. “And if for some reason the UFC pushed that on me, like I said, I’ve got to get paid for it, because it’s just a waste of time for me, I believe. A waste of time for the division”.
“Again, he’s done great thing things in flyweight and bantamweight, but I mean, featherweight is whole different beast. . . That’s why it just doesn’t make sense for me, cause everyone’s just going to sort of expect me to go out there and mop the floor. And that’s pretty much exactly what’s going to happen. No disrespect to Henry Cejudo, but it’s a whole different breed in this division.”
It will be interesting to see if Dana can peer pressure Volkanovski into a 3rd bout or will they do what Volkanovski stated:
“What, We’re just gonna keep fighting until Max wins?”
Definitely an interesting set of circumstances in the featherweight division.
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