Alexander Volkanovski has warned his rivals he might have to move up to lightweight after proving he was “levels ahead” of his featherweight peers with a clinical title defence against Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273 on Sunday.
The champion, who has lost only once in 25 professional bouts, produced a stellar performance in the main event at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, to triumph by fourth-round TKO. Referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the contest, with "The Korean Zombie" badly bloodied and bruised.
With a third successful title defence, Volkanovski took his undefeated streak to an incredible 21, while he is now 11-0 in the UFC since debuting in November 2016.
A trilogy bout with former champion Max Holloway seems the obvious next challenge – Chan was apparently a late replacement for the injured Hawaiian, whom Volkanovski defeated for a second time in Abu Dhabi in July 2020 – although the Australian said he would not wait around for anyone.
Next month, lightweight champion Charles Oliveira puts his belt on the line against No 1-ranked contender Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona.
“I’m in a position where I can do a couple things,” Volkanovski told reports at the post-fight press conference. “And if this division don’t want to sort itself out and they’re all going to sit back and wait for [expletive], fine I’ll move up and fight at lightweight. I’m an easy champ to understand: take that No 1 spot you get that shot.
“If not, let’s move up. I think we’re in a good position to maybe move up. See what happens in this lightweight title fight and maybe move up. Because again I’m showing I’m levels ahead in this division.”
Asked about the weight adjustment from 145 lbs to 155 lbs, and whether he would need to seriously bulk up, Volkanovski said: “I don’t think I need to. I’m pretty strong for the featherweight division; I’m strong for the lightweight division, too. Most of my training partners are lightweights and welterweights anyway.
“People forget, I fought at middleweight. We talk about pound-for-pound, you’ve got to remember I’m undefeated at middleweight, my only loss is at welterweight. I’m undefeated in every other division. Look what I’m doing to some of these guys. I’ve fought at all different weights. We talk about pound-for-pound, it’s there, I’m showing you what I can do.
“Again, I’m owning that crown. So from now on, as I said last time I talked to you guys, ‘Bald Volk’ is coming for everyone. So lightweight division, watch out.”