Alexander Volkanovski has warned Ilia Topuria his rise to prominence has only come because he, as champion, famously chased him for a confrontation after his most recent title win, declaring: “The UFC didn’t want you to do that”.
Australia’s UFC featherweight has also questioned the training commitment of his brash UFC 298 rival, accused the challenger of surrounding himself with ‘yes’ men and even suggested he buys his Instagram followers.
Volkanovski even warned Sunday’s title challenger that he will have to film sequels to a proposed upcoming documentary, entitled ‘Road to the Belt’, because “he ain’t getting it this time”.
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Speaking with Fox Sports Australia in Anaheim, California, Volkanovski has taken aim at the rival so brash, his social media accounts already carry the tag ‘UFC champion’ and a 15-0 – which would include Volkanovski’s scalp.
To which the champ says what?
“I don’t care that he did it,” the Australian said during a Super Bowl Sunday interview here in the United States.
“But it shows he’s happy having things given to him.
“I’ve earned everything.
“I’ve earned the championship in my bio.
“I’ve earned my title, earned my followers, you name it I’ve earned it all.
“I don’t see him doing the same.
“So this documentary … they’re going to need an extra one because the road to the title isn’t going to be accomplished, he ain’t getting it this time”.
Which, Volkanovski continued, could be a big part of his story.
“I go out there, teach him a lesson, he wakes up to himself and realises he ain’t a superstar,” the champ said.
“He starts getting in gym, do what counts, earns his stripes.
“(Laughs) I’m always looking out for everyone, even my opponents.
“I’m going to do this so maybe one day he can be champion.
“Because he ain’t going to be a great champion with that mentality and the way he carries himself.
“I don’t like it.
“He thinks he’s an absolute superstar already.
“Mate, you’ve bought your followers.”
Asked if he had felt disrespected during the build to what would be his sixth featherweight title defence, the champ continued: “He’s probably playing the game.
“But if he is a good kid who is just playing the game, he’s not going about it the right way … I think it’s gotten to his head.
“I don’t even know how much he’s in the gym.
“It just looks like he does his own little sessions here and there and has a bunch of ‘yes’ men around him.
“And he hasn’t even got the title yet.
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“So he’s in for a rude awakening and he can thank me for it later.”
Volkanovski also suggested Topuria had only started to get shine thanks to himself, as champion, confronting the Spaniard after beating Yair Rodriguez last July at UFC 290.
Departing the arena after his win, Volkanovski saw Topuria in the crowd and moved in to square off with his now title rival – a moment that has been replayed heavily since.
“So I gave it to him,” the Windang favourite suggested of the treatment his opponent has been receiving.
“The UFC wasn’t going to get him in the cage.
“But I wanted the face off
“That was the fight I wanted next so I went up to him, jumped the fence and did the face off.
“Remember, the UFC didn’t want you to do that.
“I made sure nobody else fought you because I wanted to take that zero, wanted to teach you a lesson, wanted to give you that humbling.
“It’s as clear as that.
“But now he thinks he’s the man and I’m going to show him he’s not.”
Volkanovski also questioned Topuria’s own recent interview comments suggesting, as champion, he would not face the likes of Rodriguez, Max Holloway and Brian Ortega.
In fact, the champ said it suggested a lack of confidence.
“Because he needs to fight me,” Volkanovski said of Topuria
“He has to if he wants the belt.
“So it’s easy to be confident and say ‘oh I want this guy and do all this’.
“But you’re showing me you ain’t confident … you don’t even want to fight the contenders if you get lucky and take that title.
“So I’m going to change that this weekend.
“When I go out there and do business, he’s going to learn a lesson and one day he probably will be a fighter who wants to take on a new challenge and may be able to be a good champion.”