Alexander Volkanovski says arch-rival Max Holloway lives up to his “Blessed” nickname at UFC 276, stressing that no other fighter on the UFC roster would get this trilogy after consecutive losses.
Despite having already beaten Holloway twice – albeit by decision, then split decision – Australia’s No. 1 fighter is now set to end things in a UFC featherweight showdown in Las Vegas on Sunday.
As part of the preparations, Volkanovski has already flown into the battle capital of the world to complete his final nine days of camp alongside UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, with the pair sharing a sprawling “complex” just off the strip.
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While the Wollongong resident likes to keep the whereabouts of his training base private, it’s clear that the multi-million dollar estate has more than a dozen bedrooms, among several other luxuries, to house the two champions and their teams.
Volkanovski and Adesanya have formed a strong bond over the past few years, with the regular training partners now headlining what is being tipped as the biggest fight card to air this year’s Australian Main Event.
In the main event, Adesanya defends against American Jared Cannonier, while Volkanovski defends his gold belt against Holloway for the fourth time in the co-main.
While the 33-year-old has already defeated Holloway twice, their 2019 title fight went to decision, while the second, seven months later, was decided by split decision alone.
Anyway, Volkanovski said that if the tables were turned, and it was him who lost both fights, there was no way he was going to get a trilogy against one of the most popular fighters in UFC history.
When asked if this fight would have happened if he had been the zero-two, Volkanovski replied: “Frankly, no, it wouldn’t be.
“Max is known as ‘Blessed’ Holloway.
“And he is blessed with this third chance.
“If the UFC asks, and then for me as a champion to accept after I’ve already gone two-nil, I think he’s in a very lucky position.
“So he should feel privileged and happy to have this opportunity.
“Because I don’t think anyone in any other division gets this chance.”
When asked why he agreed to the third fight, Volkanovski said: “Right now it’s working.
“Max is the number 1 candidate and we had that close fight last time.
“So people are still interested and that’s why we’re going to make it happen.”
Volkanovski questioned during his digs in Las Vegas revealed that this was the first time he and his team, led by head coach Joe Lopez, had decided to stay away from the UFC host hotel.
However, since he trains so closely with Adesanya’s City Kickboxing crew and brags to Auckland coach Eugene Bareman in his own corner, he said the decision was an easy one.
Others to settle in at the house include strong New Zealand lightweight Brad Riddell, who also fights on Sunday’s undercard, and fellow Team Volkanovski members Frank Hickman and Craig Jones.
“So we’ve got a whole crew here,” Volkanovski said. ‘And the place where we stay is huge – you wouldn’t really call it a house, but a complex.
“Which I normally wouldn’t do.
“But who knows?
“Maybe it’s a one-off, or maybe I really like the big house experience. We will see.
“I definitely think it’s good to be with the guys, to get all that positive energy.
“And I also want to feel that energy at the right moments.
“I just know I’m excited.
“I’ve been so cold the whole camp.
“There has been no pressure at all.
“I am so comfortable and confident. It has really been a breeze.”