Alex Volkanovski has some work to do yet before he’s throwing hands with Max Holloway, but the rising featherweight believes he fits the bill of a fighter who is a stylistic nightmare for the champ. Does he have a point?
Volkanovski is set to battle longtime contender Chad Mendes tonight, at UFC 232 in Inglewood, California. The Australian has been tapped for the big opportunity due to 5-0 run in the UFC, which has moved him into the #10 ranking at 145. Most recently, Volkanovski worked his way to a decision win over the ridiculously tough, Darren Elkins at UFC FN 133 in July.
Although Volkanovki probably won’t lock up a title shot if he beats Mendes tonight, he’ll certainly move into the title shot mix, since “Money” is ranked #5. While talking to the media recently about his future,a and the champ Holloway, Volkanovski said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“Max Holloway, as a fighter, I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Volkanovski said. “He’s a gamer, the way he is. He could have copped to way less damage if he wanted, but that’s not his style. His style is to come forward, come forward, but that’s why I believe guys like me, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar are really bad matchups for him. That’s why I really think if I do what I’m planning on doing – and I guarantee it’s going to happen – I’m going to be calling him out, and I reckon that’s going to be coming very soon.
“I guarantee you them short little stocky wrestlers are his worst nightmare, just purely because he’s such a gamer and he’s going to stick to his guns, and I just think that’s not a good idea.”
There you have it. Now, it should be noted that Volkanovski is not the only person who has voiced this opinion. While Holloway has an excellent takedown defense ratio of 83%, according to Fight Metric, “Blessed” hasn’t faced a lot of top-tier wrestlers during his UFC run. Holloway did earn a decision win over Ricardo Lamas in 2016, who is a decorated collegiate wrestler. But Lamas competed in NCAA Division III, while the likes of Edgar and Mendes wrestled in Division 1. This is why a lot of folks want to see how Holloway would do against Edgar, who like the champ has fast hands and amazing footwork, but also top-notch takedowns.
The question then becomes, however, does Volkanovski belong in the same conversation as Edgar and Mendes? In terms of his wrestling?
There’s no denying that Volkanovski has showcased some solid wrestling skills and a fearsome top game since he’s arrived in the UFC. But, aside from his win over Elkins, the rising star also hasn’t faced a decorated, top-tier wrestler in the Octagon. That will change tonight, of course, when he faces Mendes.
So, if we see Volkanovki take the All-American wrestler down several times, that could say a lot about his ability to possibly defeat, Mr. Holloway.