Alexander Volkanovski is feeling confident ahead of what he thinks will be a career-defining year for him in 2023 as he prepares to fight lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 on February 11th in Australia in a bad to become a two-division champion.
The 33-year-old is currently a clear underdog with oddsmakers ahead of his move up to lightweight for the superfight showdown, but Volkanovski only sees good things ahead as he adjusts to a bigger, stronger version of himself.
“Islam’s strong, Islam’s going to be ready, but I guarantee you, mark my words, I’m going to be ready,” Volkanovski admitted on his YouTube channel. “I’m going to be more than ready. I’m going to be fit, I’m going to be stronger than ever. I’m already filling up. I’m already holding more muscle than I originally did in my last few fights. I’m already stronger, significantly stronger.”
It’s understandable why Volkanovski would be confident in his own ability when you look at his impressive resume, having gone undefeated in his 12-fight run in the UFC so far, defeating a who’s who of featherweight talent along the way like Max Holloway (x3), Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo, The Korean Zombie and Chad Mendes.
Makhachev is a formidable foe though, having compiled an 11-fight winning streak of his own in the Octagon, and while it’s not as star-studded a resume as his next opponent, the fact that he was able to beat fellow lightweight great Charles Oliveira as convincingly as everyone else he’s faced so far suggests that he is a special talent.
Volkanovski recognises the magnitude of the fight and the challenge that awaits him, but at the same time he sees it as the path to cementing his legacy as one of the sport’s best ever.
“When I’m telling you 2023 is gonna be the biggest year of my whole career, my legacy – this is the defining year. 2023, it starts off with taking out Islam. Big opportunity to not only be great, but to be one of the greatest. So, that’s what I’m coming for.”