JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a dominant win to defend his featherweight title, Alexander Volkanovski might have his eyes on another division.
Volkanovski (24-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) stopped “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung (17-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC), with a fourth-round TKO Saturday in the UFC 273 main event. After a pair of title wins over former champion Max Holloway and one over Brian Ortega, the win over Jung arguably was Volkanovski’s best UFC performance yet.
Volkanovski was the biggest favorite on the card, but while his win may not have been a big surprise from a betting perspective, he thinks what he did and whom he did it to speak volumes about his dominance in the division.
“I said that’s what I was going to do,” Volkanovski said at the post-fight news conference at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. “I’d been showing everyone – telling everyone all week I’m going to show I’m on another level. I’m raising the bar each time, and you saw that. All these guys can’t touch me. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that to ‘Zombie’ – not like that. It just shows that I am on another level, and the next time I get in there, I’m going to be better again.”
Jung took the fight after Holloway had to pull out of a third scheduled fight with Volkanovski with an injury. Volkanovski took the title from him in December 2019 in a close unanimous decision. They ran it back at UFC 251 in July 2020, and he again one, but with a split call.
After a unanimous decision win over Ortega in which he was in submission trouble on multiple occasions, but fought through it to win, the trilogy fight with Holloway was booked – only to need to be scrapped.
Volkanovski said he’d still take that third fight with the Hawaiian, and that appears to be what the UFC is set on booking. But he also said if there are going to be delays at featherweight, he’d be just as happy moving up to lightweight to test the waters there.
“That’s a fight (with Holloway) I wanted purely for the haters and all that type of stuff,” Volkanovski said. “… Obviously, I want the biggest fights. He showed that that’s probably going to be the biggest fight. So we’ll talk to the team, we’ll see if he wants it, we’ll see if we want it, if the team wants it, if the UFC wants it, and then we’ll make that decision. I’m going to make the right decision for the right reasons.
“I’m in a position where I can do a couple of things, and if this division doesn’t want to sort itself out and they’re all going to sit back and f*cking wait for sh*t, then fine – I’ll move up and fight lightweight. I’m an easy champ to understand: Take that No. 1 spot, you get that shot. If not, let’s move up. I think we’re in a good position to move up, maybe see what happens in this lightweight division title fight, and maybe move up. Because again, I’m showing I’m levels ahead in this (featherweight) division. Maybe we move up.”
Volkanovski started his pro MMA career at welterweight 10 years ago in his native Australia. He moved to lightweight, then featherweight, in 2014. His first UFC fight, which came in front of his home fans in November 2016, was at lightweight – a TKO win over Yusuke Kasuya. But he moved to featherweight a half-year later and has been there ever since.
Not long after Holloway pulled out of the third fight with Volkanovski, and after Jung was booked to take his spot in late January, Holloway said he had been medically cleared to return and offered to be a backup for UFC 273. That made Volkanovski question whether Holloway ever was injured at all, which he later said he regretted saying. From all indications, Holloway is ready to go and likely waiting for a third title fight with Volkanovski to be booked.