After a dominant title unification bout against Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290, Australia’s very own Alexander Volkanovski has been recrowned the pound-for-pound king.
Showcasing a calibre of mixed martial arts within the featherweight division that hasn’t been witnessed since the glory days of recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Jose Aldo, “The Great” dispatched Mexico’s interim champ in under three rounds via TKO. Hence the repeat honour.
But one could argue that Volkanovski should’ve never been relegated to second place after the return of Jon Jones; the latter of whom was fast-tracked for a shot at the heavyweight belt against Ciryl Gane after years away from competition (see: Dana White Privilege) and — to the surprise of many — shockingly casual in his success.
As some of you may recall, prior to that questionable reshuffling of the pecking order, the homegrown hero managed to retain his hard-earned status as pound-for-pound king despite (narrowly) failing to obtain the lightweight strap from Islam Makhachev at Perth’s UFC 284.
To recap, as the #2 ranked P4P fighter and reigning lightweight champion, Makhachev put his belt on the line in exchange for a chance to seize Volkanovski’s position as top dog.
Volkanovski, on the other hand, valiantly moved up a weight class to meet his Dagestani opponent, putting both his undefeated UFC record, 22-fight win streak, and said position on the line in exchange for a shot at joining the rarefied company of two-division champions.
While both public and professional opinion alike still remains divided on the outcome of the historic cross-division bout, the judges’ scorecard “controversially” ruled it in Makhachev’s favour due to the sheer difference in control time — albeit with little to no damage inflicted upon Volk: 48-47 (Ben Cartlidge), 49-46 (Derek Clearly), 48-47 (David Lethaby).
Clearly, the media — which votes upon the pound-for-pound rankings on a weekly basis — were unconvinced that Islam Makhachev achieved enough inside the Octagon to warrant overtaking Alexander Volkanovski.
“I don’t want to be that guy but if he was just a featherweight in my division, I’d squash him. I’d squash him,” Alexander Volkanovski told Ariel Helwani while appearing on The MMA Hour.
“It’s a walk in the park. No offence to him but that’s legit and I can make this a walk in the park right now,” he added before alluding to the cheating allegations levelled against Makhachev by the former’s teammate Dan Hooker.
Volkanovski continued: “We fight again and we do this rematch, which… I talked about it, Islam talked about, UFC’s talking about it, and everyone else is talking about it so I think we can make that happen.”
“I don’t need him to be a featherweight… He can get as big as he wants, IV, whatever he does it doesn’t matter. Watch what happens next time.”
Alexander Volkanovski was initially crowned the #1 pound-for-pound fighter last August after dethroning Kamaru Usman, the latter of whom has since suffered back-to-back losses against reigning welterweight champion Leon Edwards.
While Usman’s defeat was indeed a contributing factor to the Wollongong native’s ascension, this was by no means a case of the P4P rankings shuffling by default. As we’ve noted time and time again, Volk has been steadily making a case for himself since debuting in the promotion circa 2016.
Prior to 284, Volkanovski was undefeated in the UFC with an incredible 22-fight win streak, having dominated the who’s who of the promotion’s featherweight division — Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo, Max Holloway (thrice), Brian Ortega 2.0, as well as the Korean Zombie (real name: Chan-sung Jung). It wouldn’t exactly be a reach to call the man a future Hall of Famer. Or an extremely viable GOAT candidate.
“I’m growing more into this whole legacy thing,” Alexander Volkanovski previously told BH during an exclusive interview.
“My motivation is my family. My legacy isn’t my motivation. But I am realising how important legacy is purely so I can look after my family.”
“You become pound-for-pound #1, the GOAT of the featherweight division, and all this type of shit – that’s money, that’s success, that’s going to feed the family for the rest of your life.”
“I refuse to lose because I’ve got to put food on the fucking table, and that’s that.”
What a man.
Anyway, here are the updated UFC Pound-For-Pound Rankings (as of July 12th of 2023):
UFC Pound-For-Pound Rankings
- Alexander Volkanovski (P4P King)
- Jon Jones
- Islam Makhachev
- Leon Edwards
- Israel Adesanya
- Aljamain Sterling
- Charles Oliveira
- Kamaru Usman
- Alexandre Pantoja
- Jiri Prochazka
- Alex Pereira
- Max Holloway
- Dustin Poirier
- Jamahal Hill
- Brandon Moreno