Alexander Volkanovski has confirmed that he still wants to defend his featherweight belt against Ilia Topuria at UFC 297 on January 20th in Toronto Canada despite having been KO’d in the first round by a head kick in his lightweight title rematch with Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 on Saturday night.
After the loss, Volkanovski candidly explained that he’d accepted the short-notice fight with Makhachev due to having had a tough time mentally sitting on the sidelines since his most recent title defense victory over Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in July.
“I don’t want to sit there and obviously make excuses, you know what I mean?” Volkanovski said at the UFC 294 post-fight press conference. “Obviously, I’m a big believer in preparation and stuff like that. But I back myself, so that’s the decision I made. You know what I mean? I’ve probably made decisions… I could’ve made better decisions, but he’s not somebody you should be taking a short notice with. But I needed it.
“A lot of people will say it’s for the money and all that, but it was much more than that. It was hard. It really is hard for athletes. Sorry. … I never thought I’d struggle with it, but for some reason when I wasn’t fighting or in camp, f*ck, sorry. … I was just doing my head in. I needed a fight.”
“This opportunity came up and to be honest, I wasn’t training as much as I should’ve,” Volkanovski continued. “But I thought I had to do it. I had to take it. I’m telling myself it’s meant to be. I was struggling a bit not fighting, doing my head in. I don’t know how. Everything’s fine. I have a beautiful family but I don’t know. You just need to keep busy.”
That same line of thinking is why Volkanovski directly pleaded to the UFC to ensure that he can still fight Topuria in January.
“I just want to say to the UFC, please keep me busy,” Volkanovski had said in the Octagon after his loss.
“I don’t do well when I’m not fighting. I needed to take this fight because it’s doing my head in when I’m not fighting. So please keep me busy.
“I’m happy to go back in January and obviously go back down to featherweight. My job here is done for now.”
And judging by Dana White’s reaction to his plea, it seems like his wish to fight again in around three months time will be granted if he is medically given the green-light to compete.
“Obviously he got headkick KO’d tonight so let him go see the doctor and make sure everything is OK,” White said at the post-fight presser.
“Give him some time, get some stitches in that eye and then if he’s medically cleared to turn it around, love it.”