Ilia Topuria Uncertain About Alexander Volkanovski Rematch Following UFC 298 Victory

New UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has reiterated his stance of not granting title shots to division stalwarts Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez or Brian Ortega, and is instead seeking new challengers, while also expressing interest in a rematch with Alexander Volkanovski if it could be held in his adopted home country of Spain.

Ilia Topuria, the new UFC featherweight champ, made waves before UFC 298. He declared he wouldn’t give title shots to division veterans like Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, or Brian Ortega.

Now, with the belt snugly around his waist after a savage KO of Alexander Volkanovski, Topuria’s stance hasn’t shifted much.

“Max Holloway, all of ’em, they don’t make sense for me right now,” Topuria stated at UFC 298’s post-fight press conference. “Like I said, I need fresh challengers. There are some fights on the horizon. Let’s see how they play out. ‘El Matador’ is here to stay.”

Topuria made a bold prediction before UFC 298. He claimed victory even before facing decorated champ Volkanovski, who was still reeling from a knockout loss to Islam Makhachev four months prior. The outcome? Topuria delivered a clean stoppage, catching Volkanovski off-guard in the second round.

What’s next for a new champ in a talent-packed division? That’s always the question. Volkanovski wants a rematch, citing his 145-pound record and his loyalty to the UFC.

But for Topuria, the idea of moving forward was more appealing. And, like many newly-crowned champs, he couldn’t resist calling out Conor McGregor in his post-win speech. Lingering on Volkanovski didn’t seem like the best move.

“He’s a good guy,” Topuria said about the former champ. “I was thinking, ‘OK, I’ll give him the rematch, he’s a good guy.’ But, it’s time to move on. Time to shake up the division a bit.

“It’s time for new challengers, new faces. I think I’ll be looking for that. But honestly, my job is to fight. Whoever they tell me to face next, I’ll be there. That’s it.”

Dana White, UFC CEO, chuckled, “that’s awesome, great to hear” when he heard about Topuria’s dismissal of the veteran featherweights.

“You know how this works,” he said. “You fight the best in the world. He just won the title. He looks like a potential all-time great. You’ve got to clear out the division. Once you do, you start figuring out what’s next… I don’t think we’ll ever see Conor McGregor at 145 pounds again. But everyone wants to fight Conor.”

There’s one way the UFC might persuade Topuria to rematch Volkanovski. A headline event in his adopted country, Spain. The new champ has sparked a frenzy in the European country’s MMA scene and is keen on a homecoming fight.

“If the UFC offers me to bring the UFC to Spain and do the rematch with Volkanovski, I’m in,” he said. “Let’s go. No f****** problem.”

Topuria’s knockout win made a trip to Spain even more tempting for the UFC. It might also have saved him from an immediate rematch. The new champ wasn’t the only one hedging on that.

“We’re definitely going to Spain,” White said. “Who [Topuria is] going to be facing, I don’t know yet. I have a lot of respect for Volkanovski – we’ll see how that plays out. But as long as they have a venue, we’re going to Spain.”


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