Alexander Volkanovski has arrived.
Alexander Volkanovski has arrived.Source: AFP

“Early next year I could definitely be right up there for a Alexander Volkanovski is Australia’s most realistic shot at a second champion in the UFC shot.”

That was an unranked Alexander Volkanovski speaking to foxsports.com.au in February of last year. Eleven months on, and the Aussie has kept his promise.

A little over a week after a stunning finish of perennial featherweight contender Chad Mendes, and Volkanovski is now unquestionably Australia’s most realistic shot at a second champion in the UFC.

He’s 6-0 since his 2016 debut in the organisation, 19-1 on his career, and now the No. 4 ranked contender in the 145-division; only behind current champ Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo, and Frankie Edgar.

It’s elite company, but nothing Volkanovski, on a 16-fight win streak, hasn’t already seen for himself. In truth, he’s had to be his own biggest fan for a while now. Before the Mendes win, he hadn’t received the “push” from the UFC that others had.

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But a win on the main card of the organisation’s final pay-per-view of 2018 was all Volkanovski needed.

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After being knocked down by Mendes in the second, the no-nonsense brawler out of Shellharbour got back up and finished his opponent in the same round.

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“I knew exactly what was going on the whole time — I knew even after he got me down, I knew to stay on him,” Volkanovski told foxsports.com.au.

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“I just put the pressure straight back on, and I could see him crumbling.”

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Volkanovski became only the fourth man to beat Mendes in the Octagon; behind Jose Aldo (twice), Conor McGregor, and Frankie Edgar. Again, not bad company.

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It was a fight he’d been begging for. Ever since arriving in the UFC, Volkanovski has called for bigger tests. And now, after announcing himself as a legitimate contender, the Aussie wants more.

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With Aldo fighting Renato Moicano in February, and Ortega having just been beaten to a pulp by Holloway, who is said to be considering a move to 155-pounds, there aren’t many top-ranked opponents available.

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“Frankie Edgar, if he wanted to do it in Melbourne [at UFC 234 in February], I’d do it,” Volkanovski said.

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“Max Holloway, if he wants to do it, we’ll do it, no worries at all.”

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The point is, Volkanovski wants to fight. And he doesn’t particularly care who against.

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But he’s always been that way.

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Volkanovski’s first four amateur fights came at middleweight. A 5’6” middleweight bouncing around the cage is a ridiculous image, until you realise he won every fight at 185-pounds.

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He then began his professional career at welterweight; the only loss of Volkanovski’s career coming at a weight he should never have been fighting at in the first place.

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@JonnyBones I’m coming for that belt!! Ever wondered what a featherweight would look like fighting at light heavyweight? 👀 #fathead @ufc pic.twitter.com/BXsU1ekBZT

— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) January 5, 2019

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Volkanovski claims he was over 200-pounds during his rugby league days, where the Warilla Gorilla (his team name, not a nickname) played front rower.

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For the former concreter, who pocketed a nifty $50k bonus for Fight of the Night at UFC 232, the motivation is simple.

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“I do this for my family,” Volkanovski said.

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“Obviously it was a career path that I chose before I had kids because I loved it. But now I’ve got a family, and family is No. 1 to me.”

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Volkanovski, who spent New Years Eve flying back home instead of celebrating his win in Los Angeles, added: “Right now I fight for my family. I need to be successful in my career, and that’s fighting, to look after them.

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“And I need to look after them for the rest of my life, and I’ve only got a few years to do it, so bring it on. Bring on the challengers, I need to do it quick.”

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After grinding to the top, Volkanovski, understandably, wants things to pick up from here.

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He’s been close to flawless through six fights in the UFC; Mendes the first to even somewhat rock him.

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“Now I’m getting the push,” Volkanovski said.

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“The UFC, I think, see something. Obviously they’re just shooting me through these ranks now — giving me good fights, big fights. So they see something special, only up from here.

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“I’ll be champion in 2019.”

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A robber who tried to steal a cellphone from a young woman in Rio de Janeiro learned the hard way that mugging a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who goes by the nickname “the Iron Lady” is not an excellent idea.

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Polyana Viana, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) strawweight, brought the hapless perp down with two punches and a kick and held him in a “rear-naked choke” before making him sit and wait for the police, she told the sports website MMA Junkie.

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The attempted crime happened late Saturday as Viana, 27, was waiting for an Uber outside her apartment block. She said the man told her he had a gun but she surmised it probably wasn’t real and in any case “he won’t have time to draw it” before she went into action.

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After subduing the assailant she discovered the weapon was in fact a cardboard replica of a pistol.

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Viana posted images of the would-be robber, looking dejected and bruised, with blood on his sleeveless shirt and on a hand, as she kept his arm in a “kimura-like position” until the police arrived.

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“Since he took the punches very quickly, I think he was scared,” she told the site.

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She said that, after the suspect’s processing by police and treatment for his injuries, she went home and made dinner. Her hands hurt a bit the next day, but nothing serious and she was otherwise unharmed.

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UFC president Dana White tweeted, with a photo of the incident: “On the left is Polyana Viana, one of our UFC fighters and on the right is the guy who tried to rob her #badf***ingidea.”

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Conor McGregor has made a strange request for his next fight, calling for an MMA exhibition bout with Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, who lost to Floyd Mayweather in 139 seconds on New Year’s Eve.

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Mayweather – a recent rival of the erratic McGregor – made $13 million for the boxing exhibition at RIZIN 14 in the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo.

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Perhaps more interested in the payday than in returning to the UFC octagon, McGregor tweeted his desire to fight the 20-year-old Japanese.

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“I wish to go to Tokyo to face Tenshin Nasukawa in a Mixed Martial Arts exhibition bout,” McGregor said.

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“Before this summer. Please arrange this, this instant. Yours sincerely The champ champ.”

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He tagged the UFC and his management team in the tweet.

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I wish to go to Tokyo to face Tenshin Nasukawa in a Mixed Martial Arts exhibition bout.
Before this summer.
Please arrange this, this instant.
Yours sincerely
The champ champ. @ufc @ParadigmSM

— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 7, 2019

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McGregor has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 in October 2018, a fight marred by disgraceful scenes in and outside of the cage afterwards.

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McGregor’s status is currently unclear as both he and Nurmagomedov await a disciplinary hearing on January 29 in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

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UFC president Dana White said earlier this year if suspensions for the pair are short enough, he would like to see a rematch.

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Max Holloway and Tony Ferguson are also in the mix to fight the pair, should Conor be forced to get into a competitive bout rather than a big-money exhibition.

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