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Volkanovski (20-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) challenges featherweight champion Holloway (21-4 MMA, 17-4 UFC) for the title at UFC 245, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 14.
Volkanovski thinks he has what it takes to defeat the champ.
“Obviously, he’s fought guys that are well-rounded,” Volkanovski said in an interview on EMG Access. “Like, people will say Frankie (Edgar) is well-rounded. But I believe I’ve got a lot more tools. I believe I’ve got a higher fight IQ, and I play what’s in front of me a bit better than what Frankie would. And my wrestling, strength – obviously, I’ve got the power, the strength, so I’ve always got that, and my cardio. I’m always dangerous. If Max tries to pour it on, he can walk into some solid shots.”
Volkanovski has been on a tear. He took out three-time featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes and beat former 145-pound king Jose Aldo with a unanimous decision in hostile territory in Brazil at UFC 237. The win set him up a shot at the title, and “The Great” thinks Holloway’s usual style and game plan won’t work against him.
“I believe he is a gamer, and he will take extra risks – that’s why he can be hit, and I believe that he won’t do that with me,” Volkanovski said. “Once he feels a bit of power, if he’s just going to come at me like that and I’m sitting on my punches, (if) I lay one or two, I guarantee you that’s going to slow him down.
“Again, I’ve got my wrestling, so it’s just going to be harder for him to play his game that he’s so used to playing. He always relies on wearing someone down. He might think he can do that to me, but that’s not going to happen. He’s going to realize that first round, that if he tries to tire me out, these rounds are just going to leave him one round at a time. So he might need to do a little bit more than just worry about wearing me down.”
Holloway is coming off a unanimous decision win over Edgar at UFC 240, which was his third straight successful title defense. He rebounded from a loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 236 in a failed attempt to capture the interim lightweight title.
Volkanovski said he saw openings in Holloway’s loss to Poirier and thinks he’ll be able to do the same to “Blessed” on fight night.
“We’ve seen the powerful guys, even Poirier, hurt him a little, and that was enough to get Poirier the win,” Volkanovski said. “I believe I’m in the same boat, and I’m a lot fitter than Poirier. And I believe I hit harder, as well. So I honestly think I’m the man to do it and I get to show the world that Dec. 14.”
It’s been quite the run for Volkanovski, who has never lost in the UFC. A win over Holloway would just be the start for the Aussie, who has aspirations of becoming the greatest featherweight of all time.
“I said (in) 2019, I’m going to be champion,” Volkanovski said. “Next year, we’re going to look at that pound-for-pound list. I want to be right up there so I’m planning on taking Max out, defend the belt a few times, then all of a sudden I’m one of the greatest featherweights in the history of the UFC.”
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