Aussie star Volkanovski chasing history in UFC bout

February 09, 2023 03:24 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Undaunted by the biggest fight of his career, Australian UFC star Alexander Volkanovski has vowed nothing will stop him in his bid to become a duel title-holder.

Wollongong-raised former concreter Volkanovski will look to make history when he challenges feared Russian grappler Islam Makhachev for his lightweight title in Perth.

Volkanovski (25 professional wins, one loss) already holds the featherweight belt, and victory on Sunday would make him the first Australian to hold two UFC titles simultaneously.

Only four other Octagon fighters have achieved the feat.

Makhachev (23-1) heads into the bout with a fearsome reputation underscored by 11 of his victories coming via submission.

He was mentored in his native Dagestan by Khabib Nurmagomedov, an all-time great who notoriously wrestled a bear as a child.

The 168cm Volkanovski will give up 10cm in height to Makhachev and has had to pile on calories to move up a weight division.

But the UFC's No.1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter insists he won't be intimidated, having honed his ability to take down bigger opponents during his days playing semi-professional rugby league.

"That's been happening forever," Volkanovski told reporters on Thursday.

"Even on the footy field ... no one's ever just overpowered me.

"If he thinks I'm just going to be some weak little featherweight, he's going to be in for a rude shock.

"You're going to see me turn up. I plan on raising two belts at the end of it."

Volkanovski is on a remarkable 22-fight winning streak and a victory on Sunday would arguably place him among Australia's greatest-ever fighters in any form of combat.

He said it was pleasing to have grown the sport's profile in Australia alongside others such as Robert Whittaker, whose planned fight against Paulo Costa in Perth was called off due to a bizarre contract dispute.

"They've seen us go to the top, they've seen us get the belts," Volkanovski said.

"We're showing these guys coming up or in the younger generation, you can not only be a champion and do well in the UFC, you can be the best."

Volkanovski said he had researched his opponent extensively and was confident there would be no surprises in what the Russian threw at him.

"He doesn't take unnecessary risks," he said.

"He's calculated, doesn't over-commit too much, he will fight on the back foot and wait for the right time to shoot."

The headline fight has been touted as a clash of styles between a supreme wrestler in Makhachev and Volkanovski's lethal striking.

But the softly-spoken Makhachev suggested he had no intention of grinding out victory.

"I want to knock him out," he said.

"He is the best fighter in the world right now in the rankings ... but I know I'm the best MMA fighter because I have all the skills."


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