In recent weeks, UFC featherweight Alex Volkanovski has watched his teammates Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker, and Shane Young, clinch wins in the UFC cage. This weekend, it’s his turn to perform and he’s hoping to push Auckland’s City Kickboxing Studio’s recent UFC record to 4-0. Looking to stop him, at UFC Fight Night: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov, is Team Alpha Male’s Darren Elkins, the tenth-ranked 145er in the promotion.
Volkanovski (17-1) is riding high on a four-fight win streak of his own in the UFC (14 fight win streak overall), which he most recently improved upon with a TKO victory over Jeremy Kennedy at UFC 221 in Perth. Prior to that he beat his current teammate Young (in Sydney), Mizuto Hirota (in Auckland), and Yusuke Kasuya (in Melbourne).
Versus Kennedy, Volkanovski continued to impress onlookers with his smothering wrestling and vicious ground-and-pound game. The heavily one-sided fight was drawn to a close just before the end of the second round.
“It went well,” stated Volkanovski. “He’s obviously known for his grinding pressure and he reckons he’s the best MMA grappler in the world and what not. So I guess it was good to show him that he isn’t and that I definitely beat him at his own game and made him look pretty amateurish, without being too disrespectful.”
“I was just way too strong,” continued Volkanovski — who has fought as heavy as welterweight in the past. “I thought he was gonna be a bit stronger, but I knew he was going to try and go for the takedowns. I knew I’d have to wear him down and then break him.”
Volkanovski said he is still searching for a KO/TKO from the standing position in the UFC, but he’s glad he got the finish on the ground, after winning his past two fights by lopsided unanimous decisions. Volkanovski said that the previous decision victories were a result of slight injuries or illnesses in camp, that forced him into more conservative game plans.
With Kennedy beaten, Volkanovski told the world that he wanted to fight the division’s ‘bad boys’. Online he called out Andre Fili, who was a little bemused by the ‘bad boy’ designation. He also named Yair Rodriguez and Doo Ho Choi as fighter’s he’d like to meet in the cage.
“If no-one’s going to call me out, I need to at least put the feelers out there,” chuckled Volkanovski. “I’m not going to be disrespectful to anyone, but at the same time I need to fight. So I was trying to get some fights.”
Volkanovski’s hope was to entice a to- ten fighter into a contest that would take place in the US. Volkanovski, who was born in New South Wales, has never fought outside of Oceania. His wish was fulfilled when the UFC match-made him with Darren Elkins on a card in the northwest United States.
“When Elkins came forward I was absolutely ecstatic,” revealed Volkanovski. “It’s a massive fight. Realistically he doesn’t need to take this fight, but he did — good on him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, but I think this is a very dangerous fight for him. Again, he’s a grinder, he wears people down, but I don’t wear out, especially when I’m in good condition.”
Elkins’ relentless and exhaustive style has culminated in a six fight winning streak against hardened UFC foes such as Michael Johnson, Dennis Bermudez, and Mirsad Bektic. He’s racked up a couple of Performance of the Night bonuses during that stretch and has seen his stock rise to the tenth ranked position in the featherweight division.
Volkanovski conceded that he and Elkins have similar credentials on paper, but the Aussie believes he is “a lot more explosive and powerful” than Team Alpha Male’s Elkins. Volkanovski said that a key difference between he and his opponent is also the amount of damage they both seem willing to take. “I’d rather not get hit,” he said.
“I’m gonna land them shots,” threatened Volkanovski when talking up his perceived stand-up advantage over Elkins. “I’m either gonna finish him early or, if he’s as durable as he seems, it’s just going to be a long night for him and I will not tire. … If he makes it into the third round, he’s still going to be eating a lot of damage and that’s not going to look too good. I think the ref will have to stop it.”
Volkanovski said he hoped that his confidence in the lead-up to this fight is not seen as him being disrespectful to Elkins’ caliber and abilities as a fighter. “I’m a realist,” added Volkanovski in justifying a prediction that he would, “land a lot of punches, cause a lot of damage, and make this look easy.”
“Again, a lot of respect to him, he’s a tough dude,” continued Volkanovski. “He’s durable. He’s a man and he’s always looking for a fight. And you know he’s gonna give it 100%, but I just think I’m going to be way too much for him on the night.”
You can see if Volkanovski is able to make his prediction become a reality this Saturday night. Darren Elkins vs. Alex Volkanovski takes place on UFC Boise’s prelim card. That portion of the event begins at 8PM ET and can be viewed on FS1.