Alexander Volkanovski has had several days to process his first round knockout loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 and has now spoken out about the fight, his mental health, and what comes next on his YouTube channel.
Regarding the fight itself, Volkanovski feels in hindsight that his decision to take the fight on short notice did affect his ability to perform at his best.
“It wasn’t me,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “I think it was pretty clear you could see that I wasn’t me in there.
“You could obviously put that down to preparation. I’m a big believer in preparation – everyone knows that. I just wasn’t prepared as I usually am. But yeah, I think you need to have those sparring rounds, you need to see the shots, defensively and all that. You need to have these bodies in front of you consistently to help you, obviously, when it comes to fight time. I didn’t have that.”
In particular Volkanovski says that he had difficulty implementing his normal high-volume style in the opening round, which enabled Makhachev to dictate how the fight went.
“Usually, I throw a lot of volume,” Volkanovski said. “And there’s a purpose to that. It doesn’t have to land, but I usually like people fighting my fight. I don’t really give them chances and times to just set things up. I don’t like to let people think, and I let (Makhachev) do his thing. I just stood in front of him.
“We had a range that I wanted to fight at so I could be more dangerous. I knew I would be in danger (at the range I fought Makhachev). I did everything; I just could not pull the trigger. I was talking to myself in there like, ‘Come on, you gotta go, you gotta go, do something, gotta go, you gotta go,’ and I just couldn’t do it.”
Some fans had been left concerned with Volkanovski’s post-fight remarks after urging the UFC to keep him busy due to the fact that he doesn’t cope well when he’s not got a fine-line, but in the video the featherweight champion assures everything that it’s nothing to worry about.
“So straight after the fight, I did the post-fight press conference and I want people to understand that, yeah, there was a raw emotion seen, but I want everyone to know that I’m OK,” Volkanovski said. “I think that people have to remember that I did just come off getting tagged, knocked out. I lost. I knew that legacy wise and all that, all those things start coming into play, so that was obviously hurting me.
“I do want to clear the air, I was struggling the last few months,” Volkanovski continued.
“The newborn, surgery, not being in the gym as much as I would like and trying to be the best father I can be, [it] can take away a lot from the training, especially when you’re coming off injuries. So I wasn’t able to be in the gym as much as I like, which sometimes can make things a little more difficult.
“Two things that are most important to me — my family and my career. That’s how I look after my family. They’re my two purposes in life, providing for my family and how I do that is my fighting. I’m in my prime and sometimes you put a bit of pressure because I know I need to make the most of me in my prime because my days are numbered.
“Me and my wife, we’re great, again I’ve got a beautiful family life, we’re all good so I want everyone to know that.
“I don’t want everything thinking that it’s not like that. It’s me trying to deal with being a high performance athlete and not being able to fulfill that side of things, especially the last few months.”
With that being said, despite the likes of Makhachev and Henry Cejudo having spoken out to recommend that the 35-year-old takes time to recover and doesn’t just go straight into his upcoming featherweight title defense against Ilia Topuria at UFC 297 on January 20th, Volkanovski has instead doubled down on his intention to take that fight.
“I talked to the UFC and I said keep me busy, and I say that because, again, I’m in my prime, I need to fight. A lot of people are like, ‘He needs a break and this.’ I don’t need a break. I want to get back in camp. I obviously talked to doctors to make sure there’s no concussion, the stitches and what not, but like I said, I’m the best version of myself inside and outside the cage when I have a clear direction. And clear direction is having a fight. I think January still looks great to me. Ilia Topuria is obviously a very exciting fight, and I can shift all of my attention to that. You’re going to see a better version of myself in January, I promise you that. I cannot wait for it. Again, I’m all good, and thank you all for the support.”