UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski admitted that he was not in his usual disciplined form ahead of his second fight with Islam Makhachev, having deviated from his usual training regimen and indulged in daily drinking for several weeks, which he believes contributed to his first-round knockout loss.
Alexander Volkanovski, the UFC featherweight champ, wasn’t quite himself before his second bout with Islam Makhachev. Who knew a rematch with the UFC’s lightweight champ was on the horizon for UFC 297?
But when Charles Oliveira got injured, Volkanovski was the go-to guy. He had to step up and save the main event on just 11 days’ notice.
The fight didn’t go as planned, though. Volkanovski got knocked out in the first round by a dramatic head kick. It made people wonder if the short notice had messed with his performance.
During a chat on Israel Adesanya’s YouTube channel, Volkanovski confessed something. Before the UFC matchmakers rang him up, he’d strayed quite a bit from his usual training routine.
The loss, he said, was a wake-up call. He admitted he hadn’t been disciplined. He’s known for being professional and disciplined all year round, and he just wasn’t that time. He was more upset with who he’d been in the months leading up to the fight.
He said it was a bit easier because it snapped him out of it. He’d been drinking every day for three or four weeks. That was unheard of for him. He wasn’t training much, had surgery, and was trying to help around the house. The drinks were going down too good, he said.
He clarified that he wasn’t out partying. He was drinking at home. But it wasn’t his usual routine. The routine that had made him the UFC champion.
One big worry for Volkanovski was his weight. He’d shot up to nearly 185 pounds. He wasn’t in top physical shape. So, he jumped at the chance to get back in shape and get back at Makhachev.
He’d never been that heavy before. Even when he was bulking up for the first fight with Islam, he never got that heavy. He decided to try and eat better. He got a day head start and then got the call for the fight. He’d already lost a few kilos, mostly water. So he decided to go for it.
He doesn’t regret taking the fight, even under those tough conditions. He’s not ashamed to talk about his struggles around the fight. He’s a big supporter of men being more open about mental health issues.
Next up, Volkanovski defends his featherweight title against the undefeated Ilia Topuria in the main event of UFC 298 on Feb. 17. It’s just four months after his knockout loss to Makhachev. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but he’s not afraid to take risks.
Losing’s not fun, he said. He’s not scared of getting hurt, he’s scared of losing. But he loves a challenge, even if it’s on short notice. That’s just who he is. It’s what made him the champion he is.
He’ll always take short-notice fights. Some people didn’t like his decision to do a short-notice fight. He’s not upset about the decision, just the timing. He knows he’d be in a better position at any other time in his career. He got caught, and that’s that. He just wishes he could’ve made it more of a fight.