The UFC featherweight division has a new contender. No. 10 ranked Alexander Volkanovski finished No. 5 ranked Chad Mendes in an action-packed fight at UFC 232 on Saturday.
Mendes, a former title challenger, came out aggressive in the opening round. He pressured Volkanovski but the former professional rugby player stayed in the pocket. The first round was close with each landing but neither doing significant damage. That would change in the second frame.
Volkanovski pressed forward in the second round and landed a right hand to start the frame. Mendes fired back and caught the Australian with a right hand that send him crashing to the canvas. Volkanovski quickly got back to his feet and went on the offense. Mendes changed levels and secured a takedown but couldn’t keep Volkanovski grounded.
Once back to his feet, Volkanovski took over the fight. He landed his jab and combinations. Mendes opted to get the fight to the ground once again. Volkanovski quickly got back to his feet and went back to landing his strikes. He connected with an elbow that hurt Mendes and kept the pressure on. Combination dropped Mendes. Volkanovski landed one more right hand before the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Vollkanvoski called for the fight with Mendes. He saw it as an opportunity to rocket up the rankings.
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“I just wanted to shoot through these ranks. I’ve said it from the start. Even though he’s probably one of the toughest guys in the division I knew this was going to be in the top 5. I’ve finally done it. He’s only lost to the greats and now he’s lost to another great, Alexander The Great,” he said following the win.
“I wasn’t hurt. I guess it dropped me. I felt fine. I was clear-headed,” he said about the knockdown. “I just kept coming forward.”
The win was Volkanovski’s 16th in a row. Now that he’s moved into eye sight of the top of the division, Volkanovski turned his attention to champion Max Holloway.
“I’m one of the most dangerous guys in the division. I can go with all the powerful ones. I can go with the Jiu-Jitsu guys. I can go with the standup guys. I’m one of the most well-rounded. I mix put it together better than anyone in the division. I’m Max Holloway’s worst nightmare,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Max Holloway. I really do. He’s a gangster. I absolutely love what he does in there but the fact that he’s such a gamer and he’s crazy in there is something that I’m so good at and he hasn’t fought a wrestler like me,” added the new featherweight contender.