UFC 266 Could Strengthen Alexander Volkanovski’s 145-lb GOAT Case

Alexander Volkanovski

Getty UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski poses with his UFC belt on July 28, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

The long-awaited fight between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and No.2-ranked Brian Ortega will finally go down at UFC 266, and should Volkanovski come out on top, he’ll add another reason why he can be considered the 145-pound GOAT.

Volkanovski has a professional MMA record of 22-1 with 11 wins by KO/TKO, and the Australian has never tasted defeat inside the Octagon. In fact, the champ is on a 19-fight win streak which includes all nine of his UFC matches.

UFC 266 takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.

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He has an impressive mantel, holding victories over the two men who are typically mentioned in the featherweight GOAT conversation, former 145-pound UFC champions Max Holloway and Jose Aldo.

Volkanovski won the featherweight belt in December 2019 by defeating Holloway via unanimous decision at UFC 245 and in July 2020, he once again got his hand raised over “Blessed,” that time by controversial split decision at UFC 251.

To earn a title fight against Blessed, Volkanovski went through the longtime featherweight king, Aldo, defeating him by unanimous decision at UFC 237 in May 2019.

And if Volkanovski takes out Ortega, who has an impressive professional MMA record of 15-1, he’ll take another step forward toward the GOAT accolade.

Volkanovski, Holloway & Aldo Are in Conversation for GOAT, Conor McGregor Is an Honorable Mention

Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, Jose Aldo & Conor McGregor

GettyMax Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor

Volkanovski, Holloway and Aldo are undoubtedly at the top of the list of the featherweight GOAT conversation. Aldo (30-7) was the inaugural 145-pound UFC champion as he was given the belt after the UFC absorbed the WEC in 2010 where Aldo held the title.

Aldo defended the UFC belt seven times against the best the division had to offer, defeating the likes of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, as well as the powerful wrestler and puncher Chad Mendes twice. Aldo lost the 145-pound belt in his eighth defense, dropping it to Conor McGregor.

However, Aldo bounced back at UFC 200 in July 2016 and won the interim belt by defeating Edgar again, and was later promoted to undisputed champion due to McGregor’s inactivity in the division.

Enter Holloway.

Holloway (22-6) would end up taking Aldo’s belt in the Brazilian’s first defense of his new title run, and then went on to defeat him again in an immediate rematch, winning both fights by third-round TKO. Blessed defended the belt twice, defeating Ortega and Edgar, before losing it to Volkanovski.

Unlike Aldo, Holloway is still in the featherweight division and he recently rebounded from his second loss to Volkanovski, battering Calvin Kattar in January 2021.

An honorable mention in the GOAT conversation is McGregor. Although the Irishman has fallen on hard times recently in the UFC, losing three out of his last four bouts, he started his UFC career going undefeated as a 145 pounder. Like Volkanovski, “Notorious” holds victories over both Holloway and Aldo, defeating them by unanimous decision and first-round KO, respectively.

After finishing Aldo, Notorious moved up a weight class and hasn’t been back to featherweight since.

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Volkanovski Is Confident a Third Fight With Holloway Will Go His Way & Says He’s Going to Be ‘Too Much’ for the American

In a recent interview with James Lynch, Volkanovski gave his thoughts about fighting Holloway in a trilogy bout. For Volkanovski to truly grasp the GOAT title, he’ll likely need to defeat Blessed again, especially because his split decision victory over Holloway in their second fight was highly contested by fans and analysts alike.

The Australian, who isn’t looking past Ortega, said that if he met Blessed inside the Octagon again, he’ll notch a third victory over Holloway as Volkanovski is “going to be a whole different beast” compared to their last two fights.

Volkanovski said via BJPenn.com:

The last fight that we did on Fight Island, you don’t want to make excuses, but I don’t think I turned up at all, and I was still able to get the job done. That just shows what level (I’m at), and again you have to give credit where credit’s due, because the way he showed up from the first to the second fight, mate, it was incredible. But for me to be able to bring that fight back, I didn’t turn it up that day and I still got the job done. That just shows you that there are levels to this and that I’m no joke. I’m going to turn up the next fight 100 percent and I’m not going to give him any rounds just like the first fight. I’m going to start off stronger and I’m going to finish even stronger. But again, Max is a great fighter, hence why he is getting a third fight. He’s going out and taking out other guys and earning that No. 1 spot because he deserves to be right up there as well. So again, you gotta give credit where credit’s too. It’s going to be a great fight, but I just think I’m going to be too much. By then, I’m going to be a whole different beast.

Vokanovski Said Ortega Isn’t Professional Enough to Defeat Him & Obtain Gold

Brian Ortega

GettyBrian Ortega celebrates his victory over Frankie Edgar following their featherweight bout during UFC 222 on March 3, 2018.

Volkanovski is very confident going into the main event of UFC 266 against Ortega. During media day this week, Volkanovski said that the reason he’s had such great success in MMA is because of the “hard work” he’s put into the sport. And according to the Australian, “T-City” hasn’t been in the gym as much as him.

“I ain’t no athletically gifted human being, you know what I mean?” Volkanovski told MMA Junkie. “I’m challenged in height, you know what I mean? Like, you name it. I was obviously heavy set, you name it. But, you know, it was just through hard work and busting my a** I got to where I am, and I’m living proof that anyone can do it or do whatever they want.

“Hard work gets you to where I am. Talent only gets you so far, and he’s unprofessional. He ain’t doing what I’m doing. I guarantee you he doesn’t deserve that belt. He ain’t taking it from me.”

READ NEXT: Do-or-Die for Robbie Lawler: ‘Ruthless’ Needs a Win at UFC 266

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