LAS VEGAS — If there’s a singular reason why Alexander Volkanovski believes he’s just a few more sleeps from becoming the UFC featherweight champion on Saturday when he challenges Max Holloway, he believes it has more with what’s in his head than his hands.
Volkanovski (20-1), the 31-year-old native of Shellharbour, Australia, enters the co-main event of UFC 245 at T-Mobile Arena 7-0 since his UFC debut in 2016 and fresh off a clinical decision win over former champion Jose Aldo.
“[Casual observers] don’t know a lot. There is a lot of people who do understand but whether they understand as much as we understand, I do not know,” Volkanovski told CBS Sports during Thursday’s media day. “They know that I am definitely a test for Max and come Saturday night after i get the job done, with the opportunity that I’m in right now I could be a superstar overnight. All of those casuals will probably jump aboard and they will know exactly who I am and know I am a big deal.”
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It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Volkanovski the most dangerous challenge on Holloway’s ledger. Although he gives up five inches in height to Holloway (21-4), Volkanovski surprisingly holds a reach advantage of nearly three inches. Still, Volkanovski believes it’s the game plan he has already concocted to disarm Holloway that will make the difference.
“I’m not saying that a lot of these fighters are at a casual level, but a lot of these fighters do not understand the game the way I do and Max do,” Volkanovski said. “The things that Max does really well, I’m aware of. Even just my basics are so effective against a guy like Max Holloway. Then we have the game plan and by then I’m prepared enough more than any other. I just go out and do it. That separates me.
“I know how to find my way into the takedown. If that’s not working, I’ll know how to use that against him. If his head movement is good or his range is any good, I’ll use that against him. We know things to do that.”
Although Volkanovski wouldn’t describe the 28-year-old Holloway as vulnerable, he said the champion will become it mostly because his team “understands what [Holloway] is doing really, really well.” Volkanovski pointed to his ability to make Aldo’s greatest quality a liability against him as a preview as to what Holloway will have in store.
“[Aldo] is technically sound, he’s very good and I used that against him That’s what I mean about the game evolving,” Volkanovski said. “There were things that he does so well that we used against him. It doesn’t really make sense. People just said he didn’t show up but someone made him not show up.”