Even with the damaging nature in which Alexander Volkanovski (26-3) was knocked out by Islam Makhachev in UFC 294’s main event on Saturday night, the two time lightweight title challenger, and current 145-pound king, still plans on defending his featherweight title against Ilia Topuria (14-0) in January.
After filling in for Charles Oliveira on very short notice, Volkanovski got finished in dominant fashion by Makhachev, who landed a picture-perfect high roundhouse kick. The kick connected flush to the temple of Volkanovski, staggering him beyond the point of recovery, and ultimately leading to the first round knockout.
Islam Makhachev knocks out Alexander Volkanovski in the first round #UFC294
Full replay from every angle: pic.twitter.com/IkoE0Ghjjl
— THRIVE (@ThriveForeverX) October 21, 2023
This was by far the most damage ‘The Great’ has taken in any of his fights, and the first knockout he has suffered in the 15 fights he has been a part of in the UFC since signing with the organization in 2016. With that in mind, no one would be shocked if he took an extender break to recover, but Volkanovski being a true fighter through and through, sees no issue with returning in January to defend his 145-pound strap versus the top five ranked competitor in Topuria.
Many felt that Volkanovski would change his plans for a quick turnaround between fights following the devastating knockout loss on Saturday. But, on Tuesday, he took to his YouTube channel to confirm his plans to move forward with the scheduled bout in January versus Topuria.
“I talked to the UFC, and said to keep me busy. I need to fight, a lot of people are like ‘He needs a break!’ I don’t need a break, I want to get back in camp. Obviously, I need to talk to doctors, make sure there’s no concussion, the stitches, and whatnot, but I want to get in camp. Like I said, I am the best version of myself inside and outside of the cage, whenever I have clear direction.”
“Clear direction is me having a fight. January still looks great to me, Ilia Topuria is obviously a very exciting fight. I can shift all of my attention to that. You’re going to see a better version of myself in January, I promise that.”
Following his knockout loss on Saturday, Volkanovski touched on the mental health struggles that he has been facing during his time off from training camp. Because of his mental state, he feels that the cure is keeping busy and fighting as much as possible.
Alexander Volkanovski reveals he's been dealing with mental struggles with inactivity, and ‘needed this fight for more than money’ pic.twitter.com/gsnpJJIu3j
— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) October 21, 2023
Many members of the MMA community feel that Volkanovski should not rush back into things, and take some time off to address his mental state, in addition to the damage that the knockout on Saturday may have caused.
— Morning Kombat (@morningkombat) October 25, 2023