Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski has been on a tear in the featherweight division. With a 25-1 record, 12-0 in the UFC, he is the reigning featherweight champion. Alex is quickly cementing is legacy in the fight game with massive wins over big named opponents. In the past, Alex has beaten legends such as Darren Elkins, Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo. But, one of his toughest battles was against a future first ballet Hall Of Famer, Max Holloway. Many people, fans and analysts alike, all thought that Max would be Alexander’s toughest opponent to date. Then, in December of 2019 at UFC 245, Volkanovski beat Holloway by decision. For many fans, this wasn’t enough. There was a feeling that Alex didn’t make a statement like many thought he should. So, they had the rematch. July of 2020 at UFC 251, they went at it again. Alex won again, but this time by split decision, in a victory that many thought he may have lost. Yet again, more doubt for The Great. But, obviously, in Volkanovski’s mind, he beat Holloway twice. There’s nothing left to prove, it’s time to move on. And so he did. Alex went on to fight Brian Ortega at UFC 266 in September of 2021. Brian was a matchup that intrigued many, seeing as there were question marks around if Volkanovski could get past the slick JuJitsu of Ortega and boy, did we find out. Alex was winning the fight, but as fast as you can blink, Ortega locked Volkanovski in a Guillotine choke and the crowd went insane, the commentary were shocked, screaming, going ballistic because this could be it. Brian Ortega had Alex in a choke so deep that he was turning purple, but some how, some way, Volkanovski forced through it and popped his head out in an unthinkable moment that will now be on his highlight reel for life. Alex ended up beating Ortega very clearly on the feet and getting the decision win. But still, a cloud loomed over the head of Volkanovski and his name was Max Holloway. Again, Alex ignored the voices and went on to fight another legend in Chan Sung Jung, AKA The Korean Zombie at UFC 273, where it was absolutely no match and Alex picked up the TKO victory. Now, it was time. Volkanovski set out to give Max Holloway one more fight, the trilogy. Even though Volkanovski technically beat Holloway twice before, he had to really prove that he could beat Max like he’s beaten everyone else. UFC 276, July of 2022, two years after their second fight, the trilogy went down. This time, things were different. Alex left no question marks and no doubt. He beat Max Holloway up bad, bloody and bruised. Alex once again picked up the victory over Mac Holloway but this time it was clear that he was the better man. That looming dark cloud faded away and Volkanovski cleared his path. But, who next?
At that time, it felt like the featherweight division was just being cleaned out by the champion. So, he set his sights on a bigger prize, the 155 pound Lightweight Championship held by Islam Makhachev. Islam is a 23-1 fighter who’s 12-1 in the UFC. On his run to the championship, Islam has finished over half of his UFC opponents. He’s taken out the likes of Drew Dober, Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker, Bobby Green and even captured the championship by beating Charles Oliveira. Islam has been on a run that feels like he’s unstoppable. The wrestling game is untouchable, the strength is seemingly unmatched. When the fight gets to the ground, no one can stop him. The wins and domination has launched Islam Makhachev to be the number two pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Who’s number one you ask? None other than Alexander Volkanovski. So, while Alex wants to become one of the very few to hold champ-champ status with two division championships, Islam does have a sentiment of his own, and that’s beat the number one guy and become the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. So, it’s only right they make it happen, and they did. Tomorrow night it goes down, Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski moving up a division to challenge Islam Makhachev for the Lightweight Championship.
Now, this fight has a lot of stakes attached to it but none greater, in my opinion, than the stakes on the line for Alexander Volkanovski. No, not just that the event is in his home country of Australia, not champ-champ status, but G.O.A.T status. Alexander Volkanovski is already the current pound-for-pound best fighter in the world at this moment according to UFC’s rankings, but he’s undefeated in the UFC, something that not many people are, including Islam. If Alex picked up the win Saturday night, I truly believe that this will 100% cement Volkanovski as the greatest featherweight fighter of all time. Beating a who’s who in the division, moving up a weight class and stopping a monster of a champion and becoming double champion is a feat only one other featherweight has done, and that was Conor McGregor, who then won the lightweight title and abandoned the featherweight division all together and never went back. For Alex, it’s different. He’s already setting himself up for another featherweight matchup as the co-main event for tomorrows UFC 284 event is Josh Emmett vs. Yair Rodriguez for the interim-featherweight title, making the winner of the fight Volkanovski’s next challenger in the division. Alex has went on record to push for this fight to happen so he does know a clear cut next opponent for him in the division, making it clear that he plans to defend both belts at both weight classes if he were to win Saturday night. Not only would a win propel him to Greatest Of All Time status in the featherweight division, but there’s a potential that he could be in the conversation for overall GOAT as well. Lots of people are doubting Volkanovski, but as mentioned earlier, Islam does have one loss in the UFC and that was by way of first round TKO. So, Alex has a chance to finish this fight if it were to stay on the feet, something that Islam has said he’d like to do, because he’s looking to knockout Alex. This could be mind games and Islam will immediately revert to his wrestling as usual, or maybe he wants to knockout the number one pound-for-pound to really take his spot. We’ll see how it plays out.
In conclusion, is Alexander Volkanovski the greatest featherweight in UFC history? Yes. Would a win this Saturday cement that legacy even more? Yes. But, a loss would also not hurt him. The risk Alex is taking is a feat that not many are willing to do and that’s why he’s a massive underdog on the betting odds and in the eyes of many fans. If he were to lose, it wouldn’t tarnish his legacy in the featherweight division, but it would cool down talks of Alex being in the overall GOAT conversation. But, a win would add more fuel to that fiery conversation indeed. Alexander Volkanovski is the Greatest Featherweight to ever do it and if he wins tomorrow night, everyone should put respect on his name and launch him into your GOAT lists. But, he has a tough challenge ahead.
UFC 284 is live on Pay-Per-View this Saturday night with the main card starting at 10PM EST.