5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) / 145 lb (66 kg; 10 st 5 lb) / Featherweight
The current featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, is currently on the path to becoming an all-time great, and even though he is not there yet, he is undoubtedly on the right track. With one of the best MMA teams right now, Volkanovski has a high potential to surpass the likes of Jose Aldo and Max Holloway.
Volkanovski started Greco-Roman wrestling as his first martial art background but later decided to pursue rugby instead. Despite being a shorter stature, Volkanovski was a tremendous player, weighing around 214 lbs. Volkanovski then went back to MMA and pursued a career in MMA with Greco-Roman wrestling as his base.
He started his first fights in small organizations Australian FC and others in his hometown and had a 13-1 record before joining the UFC. Volkanovski also did not begin his MMA at featherweight but rather on the welterweight division. He fell short in winning the AFC Welterweight tournament and eventually decided to move down to lightweight.
After one lightweight win, Volkanovski decided to move down to featherweight this time, and he eventually won the AFC and PXC Featherweight champion. After defending his belts, Volkanovski was finally about to make his UFC debut.
Volkanovski was set to make his debut against Yusuke Kasuya and won via TKO. He also faced Mizuto Hirota and won via unanimous decision. Unlike some prospects, Volkanovski did not have a big fanbase or hype early in his career; one factor might be because he did not fight in the States. His next two fights were also held in Australia, beating Jeremy Kennedy and Darren Elkins.
Mendes vs Volkanovski
His big test was against a former title contender, Chad Mendes. It was also the first time in his UFC career that he was the underdog. Volkanovski was not a big name among the casuals, and Mendes came off an impressive first-round knockout win.
It was a tough fight for Volkanosvki since both had similar physiques, and it was an exciting fight. It was an even fight, and Mendes mixed his wrestling more, but Volkanovski somehow finds a way to get back on the feet.
Both fighters stepped on the gas pedal more as the fight went on, and Chad Mendes landed great combos that knocked Volkanovski down. It was looking to be a stoppage, but Volkanovski showed remarkable recovery and landed shots of his own. Mendes then changed levels and even got Volkanovski’s back but was not able to fully capitalize.
Volkanovski still put on the immense pressure and landed great punches that made Mendes go down. The referee was forced to step in and stop the fight. It showed Volkanovski could rally through adversity and against a top featherweight as well.
Aldo vs. Volkanovski
His next fight was against arguably the greatest featherweight of all time, Jose Aldo. He was also an underdog, and the fight was booked in Brazil. The fight was pretty lackluster, but Volkanovski had a great game plan of neutralizing Aldo’s explosiveness. Volkanovski won the contest via unanimous decision.
Volkanovski vs. Holloway: Back to Back
UFC granted him a title shot after being undefeated inside the Octagon with seven fights and beating the top contenders. He was set to face Max Holloway at UFC 245.
Volkanovski won most parts of the fight, and his leg kicks may have won him the fight. His technical kickboxing was a great showcase, and Holloway could not dominate since Volkanovksi had great fight IQ as well. It went to the judges giving Volkanovski a unanimous decision win.
An immediate rematch was booked for Holloway to regain his title, to which Alexander accepted as well. In the fight, Holloway started strong, even knocking Volkanovski down in the last seconds of the round. As the fight went on, Volkanovski was getting better and more active, and Holloway started fading.
The judges gave it a split decision, and it could go either way. Some of the fans and fighters thought that Holloway won, but the third round was the toss-up of the fight. Volkanovski successfully defended his belt and has two wins over Holloway.
Many called Volkanovski a fake champ due to his controversial win against Holloway, but he was ready to move on and face the next contenders. That guy was Brian Ortega, who beat the Korean Zombie dominantly.
Volkanovski vs Ortega
It was later revealed that Volkanovski tested positive for COVID, and the scheduled bout was canceled. The UFC then decided to have Volkanovski and Ortega as the Ultimate fighter coaches. It was also a great rivalry from both fighters.
On fight night, Volkanovski dominated most of the fight with his striking, but Ortega was also not slowing down. In the fourth round, Ortega timed a takedown and locked in a guillotine choke. It was looking to be a stoppage mainly because that is Ortega’s strongest suit. Volkanovski was also turning blue, but he somehow did not tap or get to sleep.
A switch of positions and Ortega locked in a triangle choke, but Volkanovski also survived and even dominated the latter parts. It was a pretty one-sided scorecard, but the fight was more close than what the scores tell.
On that night, Volkanovski gained more fans and proved why he was the champion. A trilogy with Max Holloway is expected since it is pretty clear that both fighters are the top featherweights right now.