Alexander Volkanovski isn't taking anything away from Yair Rodriguez after 'El Pantera' beat Brian Ortega under dubious circumstances. However, he's not impressed with the challengers in his division refusing to fight for an interim title.
During an interview with Daniel Cormier, Volkanovski reiterated that a 'big win' from any featherweight contender would be rewarded with a title shot. He just doesn't feel like Yair Rodriguez or Josh Emmett's recent victories apply. He said:
"It is a tricky one. At the end of the day, for people to act like [the Ortega win is] not a win is just ridiculous. It's a win. It's a legitimate win. The problem here was, so many people are screaming for the title shot, 'I want this and that.' At the end of the day, people need to go out and earn it. People need to go out there and take that spot."
Yair Rodriguez won his fight when Brian Ortega dislocated his shoulder four minutes into their fight. Josh Emmett won a close split decision over Calvin Kattar. Neither victory built the kind of hype amongst fans to excite Alexander Volkanovski. He said:
"I'm a nice guy but I want to say 'Get your s*** together.' Here I am, busted hand ... But I'm willing to be a backup fighter for absolute killers in the lightweight division just so no one else takes away that opportunity from me. Why aren't I seeing that? Why aren't I seeing these guys going 'Ah, stuff it, I'm taking that number one spot,' or even for the interim, 'I'm taking that so no one else [gets it], I know I'm going to win, then I know I'm talking Volk out afterwards.' Where is this mentality? I'm sure I'm not that different."
Watch Alexander Volkanovski discuss the featherweight title picture with Daniel Cormier below:
Yair Rodriguez recently said that he wasn't interested in fighting for an interim belt, and will wait for Volkanovski to heal from hand surgery. He could end up waiting a while. Without that big win, 'The Great' implied he has no issue moving up to lightweight and challenging the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev for the 155-pound belt.
Alexander Volkanovski is willing to step in if anything happens to Charles Oliveira or Islam Makhachev
Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev are set to fight for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi. But if anything happens to either man, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will be ready to step in and try to earn a second title.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Volkanovski said:
"So if I’m fit enough, do I stand by and be ready just in case someone gets injured, which I’ve got a feeling someone will? Go and stand by so nobody can take that opportunity away from me? That’s the type of guy I am. So we’ll see if it’s doable and I might be making that trip to Abu Dhabi. Because that’s who I am. Take away anything that can get in my way.”
It's still unclear whether Alexander Volkanovski's hand will be recovered enough to allow him to act as an official backup at UFC 280 on October 22. However, you can see why he's frustrated with the fighters at featherweight when he is willing to do whatever possible to grab a shot at the lightweight title.