Topuria Snatches ‘Old Man’ Volkanovski’s Belt In Heated UFC 298 Presser

The UFC 298 pre-fight presser took place, as Alexander Volkanovski defends his UFC Featherweight Title against Ilia Topuria in the main event on February 17, with many talking points. 

Volkanovski has much to prove after being stopped in the first round in his last fight against Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 last October. The Australian took the fight on short notice, less than two weeks after Charles Oliveria pulled out with an injury. The featherweight champion moved up to lightweight to avenge his first loss against Makhachev at UFC 284 last year.

Volkanovski later admitted he should not have taken the fight, revealing he had been drinking every day for weeks while not in a planned fight camp. His opponent is undefeated, as Topuria has stopped the last four of his five opponents, making him the division’s top contender. 

In chief support, the ex-UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker takes on Paulo Costa. The winner knows they could get a shot at the world title against Dricus Du Plessis if a rematch with Sean Strickland fails. Elsewhere, Ian Garry takes on Geoff Neal in a welterweight bout, while Henry Cejudo and Merab Dvalishvili face off in a bantamweight clash and much more. Here were the highlights from the presser. 

Volkanovski vs. Topuria

Topuria tried to get on Volkanovski’s nerves after suggestions the champion was hitting father time. The 35-year-old champion played into that narrative as he “hobbled” on stage wearing a cardigan, bifocal glasses and a newsboy cap.

“Just having a bit of fun with it. You’ve got to do it, for the people as well. Everyone appreciated the outfit, so I wanted to do it in person,” Volkanovski said

Topuria was heavily booed, causing him to lash out at the champion.

“Shut the f*** up! Shut up. You see how you can dress? You already know what’s going to happen. You just came ready for your retirement. Look how you look as an old man,” Topuria stated

Topuria then took things a step further, grabbing Volkanovski’s belt, causing the champion to get out of his seat. Volkanovski got the belt back as both men traded verbal shots.

“Stand up and do something. Humble me. I’m right here in front of you. Do something,” Topuria said 

“You might as well take advantage of it now. You’re never going to see it again. Not until I teach you a lesson. Maybe one day you can be a great champion. I’m going to kick your ass first, you’ll learn your lesson, and maybe you can bounce back after that. Until then, get your hands off my belt,” Volkanovski replied 

Other Highlights

Full Card

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria

Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa

Ian Machado Garry vs. Geoff Neal

Henry Cejudo vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Anthony Hernandez vs. Roman Kopylov

Undercard

Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Lemos

Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Justin Tafa

Rinya Nakamura vs. Carlos Vera

Zhang Mingyang vs. Brendson Ribeiro

Josh Quinlan vs. Danny Barlow

Oban Elliott vs. Val Woodburn

Andrea Lee vs. Miranda Maverick

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