Ahead of his sixth title defence at Sydney’s UFC 293, this time against firebrand brawler Sean Strickland, two-time UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has found time to praise his longtime friend, City Kickboxing Gym teammate, and fellow champion in Alexander Volkanovski, who the New Zealand fighter believes is mixed martial arts’ reigning GOAT.
Adesanya was asked about where he ranks himself among the all-time greats during this past week’s UFC 293 media day, and in a moment of commendable humility, The Last Stylebender admitted that ranking wasn’t important to him at this stage before crowning Volkanovski the greatest of all time.
“I was chasing that, I was chasing the greatest of all time and I still think I’m one of the greatest of all time,” explained Israel Adesanya.
“But I put Alex Volkanovski as the greatest of all time, in my eyes, because I see the work he does… I love the way he fights and he’s one of my favourite fighters in history.”
“This is art… Art is subjective, I don’t need you to think the way I think, you can think Kobe is the greatest of all time, you can think Magic Johnson is.”
“You can think whatever you want, you don’t have to think the way everyone else wants you to think and say what everyone else wants you to say… just say what you want.”
Volkanovski has been making a compelling case for himself during his tenure at the world’s leading MMA promotion, only conceding defeat once against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 (which itself was controversial and still debated to this day) across 14 bouts.
Outside of that, considering the sheer dominance of his performances thus far and the calibre of competition he’s faced — ranging from Chad Mendes and The Korean Zombie (Jung Chan-sung) to Max Holloway (thrice) and former GOAT Jose Aldo — certainly makes for an impressive résumé.
At the very least, Volk will surely go down in history as one of the greatest-ever featherweight champions (if not the greatest).
Adesanya does, however, believe he has a pretty good shot at being considered the GOAT over Alexander Volkanovski by the time he retires; he is currently chasing the legacy of Anderson Silva to be considered the greatest UFC middleweight champion (which is only a few more title defences away).
He added: “When have I ever given a f**k about the rankings? If you guys know my history and how I talk, I don’t give a f**k.”
“But I know I’m the best and I’m not done yet, I’m still going. So I know when it’s all said and done, I’ll be the best.”
The UFC 293: Israel Adesanya vs. Sean Strickland main card is scheduled to go down at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena this Sunday (September 10) at 12 PM AEST / 10 AM AWST.
The preliminary card, on the other hand, kicks off at 10 AM AEST / 8 AM AWST, following the early prelims which begin at 8 AM AEST / 6 AM AWST — live-streamed for free on UFC Fight Pass and Kayo.
The pay-per-view element, however, will cost you $59.95 here in Australia. No UFC Fight Pass or Kayo subscription is required to purchase.
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