Laura Sanko: Despite UFC 298 Title Loss, Alexander Volkanovski Remains Greatest Featherweight Ever

Despite Alexander Volkanovski losing his UFC featherweight champion title, UFC commentator Laura Sanko maintains that he is still the greatest featherweight of all time, emphasizing that one loss does not erase his previous achievements and greatness.

Alexander Volkanovski may have lost his UFC featherweight champion title. But Laura Sanko, UFC color commentator, has a message for the newer MMA fans. It’s simple: in this game, everyone loses at some point, except for a few rare exceptions.

Volkanovski was defeated by the new champ, Ilia Topuria. This happened in the second round of UFC 298‘s main event, which took place last Saturday in Anaheim. Volkanovski’s reign started in December 2019, after he beat Max Holloway at UFC 245. It ended after five successful title defenses over a span of more than four years. Now, Volkanovski has suffered back-to-back stoppages from Topuria and lightweight champ Islam Makhachev.

Despite this loss, Sanko still holds Volkanovski in high esteem. “He’s still the greatest featherweight of all-time at this point,” she told MMA Fighting. She’s felt this way for a long time. The greats get beat, right? And one loss doesn’t erase greatness. That’s the problem with the MMA hummingbird memory.

When it comes to featherweight GOAT conversations, you’re talking about Jose Aldo, Max Holloway, and Alexander Volkanovski. Sanko firmly believes that Alex was the greatest of those three. It’s a great debate to have, though. There’s a strong argument for any of those three guys. Jose Aldo would probably be second in her book. But just because he lost, it doesn’t erase his greatness. It might be the last time we see him at the top of the featherweight mountain, but it doesn’t change what he did.

Volkanovski’s title reign included an underrated classic rematch with Holloway at UFC 251 in July 2020. “The Great” won a split decision in one of the closest title fights ever. He then defeated Brian Ortega in MMA Fighting’s No. 3 ranked 2021 Fight of the Year. He also put on near flawless performances against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, Holloway in a trilogy fight, and Yair Rodriguez this past July at UFC 290.

If UFC 298 was the last time Volkanovski holds featherweight gold, Sanko has a simple description for his championship run. “He was greatness,” she said. He was the greatest of his generation, and possibly of all-time in her mind. Because here’s a guy who wasn’t built for this division height-wise, right? He was always the shorter guy, and he had to develop skills as he went, which is always impressive when people do that at the highest level.

In his early UFC run, he was pushing guys up against the fence and grappling. That wasn’t necessarily going to win him a ton of fans. But over time, what impressed Sanko about him is that even when she thought he had reached the “Oh my gosh, this is the greatest featherweight of all-time” level, he’d go out there and have another fight. And she’d wonder, how did he find another level to his game?

The third Max Holloway fight was insane. What he did in that fight is part of the reason why he’s the GOAT. To do that to arguably one of the other GOATs is insane. It was an absolutely incredible performance.

Seeing a guy like Alexander Volkanovski work and evolve even at the top of the mountain is something. The best champions of all-time struggle with this: how do I stay here? How do I stay motivated? How do I stay hungry? How do I continue to improve? Somehow, he found a way to find just enough of a chip in every situation where he was doing that. And to Sanko, that will be part of his legacy, his ability to outdo himself every single time that he went in there.


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