Volkanovski Needs to Tell Himself It’s OK to Take Time Off

February 21, 2024
2 months

Alexander Volkanovski needs to take some time off to smell the roses. Or maybe he can do some more acting, as his recent commercial poking fun at his age shows Volkanovski has a sense of humor. What Volkanovski needs to do is take a break from the stress and pressure of being at the top of the UFC.

Volkanovski’s time as a mixed martial artist isn’t over. But at age 35 and coming off consecutive knockout losses, Volkanovski has more time behind him than in front of him at this point. MMAfighting latest updates show Volkanovski is at a crossroads in his career. Now that Volkanovski is no longer the featherweight champion, he may need to work back up the ladder for another shot at the title.

But when it comes to the next step, there is no shortage of options for Volkanovski. While an immediate championship rematch may not be in the cards, there are plenty of options for Volkanovski to keep fighting. But after two difficult losses in a row, there are other questions Volkanovski needs to consider as well. 

Retirement is one option. There is also the idea that Volkanovski should rest more before his next fight. Volkanovski begged the UFC to give him another fight after losing the second match with Makhachev. He won’t want to make the same mistake of rushing back in again.

Did Father Time Finally Catch up to Volk?

Many people thought Volkanovski was making a major mistake by accepting a rematch with Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 in October. Volkanovksi accepted the fight on 12-days’ notice in his desire to try and win the UFC lightweight championship to become a double champion. Instead of becoming the next fighter to join an exclusive club, Volkanovski ate a head kick in the first round and lost by knockout for the first time in 10 years.

Only five months later, Volkanovski saw his run of five title defenses end with a knockout loss to Ilia Topuria at UFC 298. Volkanovski couldn’t handle Topuria’s power. While Volkanovski won the first round on the scorecards, Topuria got him up against the fence and landed a punch that put Volkanovski out cold.

What Volkanovski needs to do is take some time off and gather himself. Taking two knockouts that close together could endanger his career in the long term. Going for a few more months without a fight is probably his best option.

Gatekeeping like Holloway May be Next Step

If Topuria doesn’t end up rematching Volkanovski, which MMA news sites see as unlikely right now, there is a possibility Volkanovski could stay at featherweight and take on top contenders. That is the role that Volkanovski relegated Max Holloway to.

Holloway fought Volkanovski in a trilogy of fights, but the better fighter was laid to rest after Volkanovski won a dominant decision at UFC 276. This could be a good role for Volkanovski. What has made Volkanovski a successful champion is his well-rounded game. He doesn’t have too many weaknesses for opponents to exploit.

Would Volkanovski Chase After Islam?

Volkanovski’s major issue with looking at his future was that his major rivalries during his career were mostly one-sided. Volkanovski winning the first three fights with Holloway takes away most of the serious interest in the third bout. When Volkanovski went up to lightweight to fight Makhachev, he saw mixed results.

The first time the two men fought, Volkanovski fought hard and nearly pulled off the upset. There were more than a few people who believed that Volkanovski had done enough to pick up a decision win. However, Volkanovski was devastated in the rematch. Makhachev was able to land a nasty head kick that allowed him to pick up a first-round win.

Volkanovski would likely need to win a few fights against ranked opponents to get another shot at the champion. MMA latest updates show that Volkanovski may not have enough time left in his career to climb the ladder in another division.

Another Russian Fighter Could be Waiting

MMA news sites show that Movsar Evloev has an 18-0 record and has defeated some other top fighters. Evloev has a win over Arnold Allen and Dan Ige. He also isn’t a powerful fighter. Eleven of Evloev’s 18 career fights have gone the distance. 

There is nothing wrong with being a points fighter, but Evloev has yet to flash much of a finishing streak. That may make the matchup more appealing for Volkanovski. If Volkanovski fights Evloev, he will be less worried about taking another knockout loss.

Taking on a fighter who is still undefeated would be a worthy challenge for Volkanovski. During the Australians’ career, he has put up a 26-3 record. Volkanovski has spent the past five years fighting people at the top of the sport.

The Dreaded R Word

Talking about retirement isn’t something that Volkanovski wants to entertain. But there is no mistaking that things usually end poorly for fighters who hang on past their prime. Eventually, all fighters hit a point where they aren’t fast enough or strong enough to compete with younger prospects.

Online boxing news shows that Topuria is one of the top-level strikers in the featherweight division now. If Volkanovski wants to take the championship back from him, he will need to learn how to match his skills in the octagon. But the question for Volkanovski is, what does he have to prove?

Volkanovski made history by becoming the first Australian UFC champion. Volkanovski defended his featherweight title five times and has the second-highest wins in featherweight title fights in history with six. There aren’t many more mountains for Volkanovski to climb.

This may be a good opportunity for Volkanovski to step aside. Future knockout losses could take some shine off his legacy. But Volkanovski likely feels he has more left in the tank.

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By Dean McHugh.

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