Choose Your Fighter | Alexander Volkanovski

Get to Know the Topps UFC Universe

Date: Feb 29, 2024
Author: Andreas Hale
Topics: Alexander Volkanovski, Topps, UFC
Length: 788 Words
Reading Time: ~4 Minutes

To celebrate the return of UFC on Topps, we’re profiling the ferocious and captivating fighters you’ll find in Topps UFC products.

When Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski won the Mick Cronin Medal in 2010 as the South Coast Group 7 Rugby League’s best player for the Warilla Gorillas, the thought of eventually becoming arguably the greatest featherweight champion in UFC history crossed the minds of absolutely nobody…except Alexander Volkanovski

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 2021 (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)

A year after winning the prestigious award, Volkanovski decided to quit rugby and pursue a career as a mixed martial artist. There was only one problem: Volkanovski competed in rugby weighing as much as 214 pounds, nearly 70 pounds more than the featherweight limit of 145 pounds. After two years of training and shedding weight, Volkanovski made his professional debut at welterweight (170 pounds) on May 19, 2012. By 2017, the Australian fighter made his way into the UFC’s featherweight division with an impressive record of 14-1, with all but two of his wins coming by knockout or submission. 

With natural reflexes that made him a brilliant counterstriker and overwhelming power from his Aussie pigskin days, he successfully made the inexplicable transition from a 5-foot-6-inch tank of a human in a team sport to a trimmed-down fighting machine who has only himself to blame when he wins or loses. And that’s just how he likes it.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 2017: Alexander Volkanovski after defeating Shane Young of New Zealand in their catchweight bout during the UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena on November 19, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/GettyImages)

“There are no excuses in fighting,” he said in a 2017 interview with MMA Fighting about his transition from a team sport to one where the outcome rests solely on his shoulders. “You can be playing a team sport and have a good game, and you can lose. In fighting, it’s all on me. If I go out there and lose, then it’s my fault. I like that. So I know if I fight well, I’m going to win. I definitely love the fact that it’s all on you, and you do what you have to do to win. And each fight is like a grand final in the rugby league.”

Still, only some could see what would come for the former rugby player. After going 4-0 in his first four UFC bouts, Volkanovski was set to face former UFC title challenger Chad Mendes in 2018. Volkanovski steamrolled Mendes with a second-round TKO and was then set to face former champion Jose Aldo in 2019. Volkanovski dominated the future UFC Hall of Famer to punch his ticket to a title opportunity against Max Holloway, who appeared to be virtually unbeatable at 145 pounds and owned the longest winning streak in the history of the division with 13 consecutive wins. 

And then the rugby player beat the man considered the greatest featherweight of all time not once, not twice but three times. Each win was more definitive than the last, concluding with a blistering shutout in 2022, where he outboxed the former champion, who still holds a number of striking records for the promotion. 

In between those three wins over Holloway, Volkanovski racked up his own personal accolades while becoming the UFC men’s #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world in 2022 and 2023. He’s demonstrated exceptional conditioning, as evidenced by his division-leading average fight time of 17:40. He’s only spent 1.09% of his fight time on his back, good for fourth in the history of the division. He’s also third in significant strikes landed (1320) and significant strike accuracy (57.1%) and maintains the best striking differential in the division at 3.03. He also showed incredible resilience when submission guru Brian Ortega had him dead to rights with a guillotine choke in their 2019 fight, only to escape and dominate the rest of the way. To date, no opponent has been able to submit the Australian. 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JULY 02: Alexander Volkanovski (L) of Australia punches Max Holloway in their featherweight title bout during UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena on July 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

He remained the longest reigning and defending champion on the roster with five title defenses until being KO’d by Illia Topuria in their UFC 298 showdown. Although he lost his title to Topuria, the resume of Volkanovski already demonstrates that he’ll be putting on that UFC Hall of Fame jacket when he decides to hang up the gloves. 

But at 35 years of age, Alexander “The Great” has no intentions of slowing down and plans to smash even more records.

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