Alexander Volkanovski wants to test himself in Yair Rodriguez’s wheelhouse.
UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has ruled over the 145-pound division since late 2019, defending the title four times and extending his undefeated record in the weight class.
This weekend, however, Volkanovski is set for a unique challenge.
Following his interim title crowning this past February in Perth, where he submitted Josh Emmett to win the belt, Yair Rodríguez will look to secure undisputed status in the UFC 290 main event on Saturday, July 8.
To do so, the Mexican must accomplish a feat that Max Holloway failed to achieve in three attempts and Brian Ortega, Chan Sung Jung, José Aldo, and Chad Mendes all fell short of.
“El Pantera” does boast something that sets him apart from those names in his unique and eccentric Taekwondo-based offense. Many have pointed to that as a key component of a potential upset victory, with former two-division champion Daniel Cormier outlining the importance of Yair Rodriguez’s kicks.
Alexander Volkanovski, however, is ready to go spinning heel kick for spinning heel kick with the challenger.
Alexander Volkanovski Teases Willingness To Match Yair Rodriguez’s Unique Offense
During a recent interview with NBC Sports, Volkanovski looked ahead to his featherweight return, which comes five months after his failed attempt to add a second piece of gold to his trophy cabinet against lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev.
As he frequently has throughout the buildup to UFC 290, “Alexander the Great” showed respect for Rodríguez’s skillset, acknowledging the challenge it presents by revealing that he sought the help of a Taekwondo legend to help him prepare.
“It’s all about getting good guys in that are gonna give me as many different looks as they can, unpredictable looks,” Volkanovski said. “I’ve got an 11-time Taekwondo world champion, Carl Van Roon… throwing tornado kicks and you name it at me… Just giving me as many looks to keep me on my toes.
“The fighter Yair is now compared to when he fought someone like Dan Hooker or even Frankie Edgar… Completely different fighter,” Alexander Volkanovski continued. “Way better at certain ranges. I think he was better at one range early in his days. Now he’s just as dangerous in every range. So that’s something that excites me. I can’t wait to go out there and systematically break him down, and show people that even the most unpredictable, awkward, and hardest guys to sort of train for, even I can shut them down.”
Having worked closely with Van Roon, Volkanovski is clearly confident in not only managing the fight in his Mexican opponent’s wheelhouse, but excelling in it.
“Everyone knows that I love to take people out at their own game as well. I like really challenging people and showing people how wide my skillset is, how well-rounded I really am,” Volkanovski stated. “The Taekwondo challenge excites me. I can’t wait to throw some spinning heel kicks, and Taekwondo Volk’s gonna come for Yair, you know, really beat him at his own game.”
Alexander Volkanovski will look to prove his superiority over “El Pantera” in all realms come fight night at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena this weekend. Should he accomplish that in the UFC 290 main event, perhaps the Australian will call for a second chance at achieving ‘champ-champ’ status.