Australian featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski hasn’t fought anyone not named Max Holloway since he defeated Jose Aldo in mid-2019.
That’s three straight fights against one of the best 145-pounders of all time.
And now, ahead of his UFC 266 meeting with Brian Ortega in Las Vegas this weekend, his training partners can’t wait to see Volkanovski in action and are expecting a different type of fight.
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Kiwi lightweight Dan Hooker is also fighting on the card and believes the stage is set for a big performance from the Illawarra product.
“I think he stops him. I think this is a tailor-made fight for Volk,” Hooker told Sporting News.
“The Holloway one is a bit different where you don’t want to get into a pressure fight with Holloway, because that’s where his abilities lie. So those whole camps were holding Volk back on the leash. He had to really hold back and stay technical and really work to kind of outclass Max.
“This is a fight where you can just let the dog off the lead. He’s just an animal when he starts going forward and pressuring fighters and I feel like this is a fight where you can really let his best abilities shine through.
“I definitely feel like he’ll stop Ortega.”
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While the pandemic prevented Volkanovski from training with the likes of Hooker and middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, his teammates are still confident he’ll get the job done.
Speaking in a preview on his Youtube channel, Adesanya says Volkanovski’s achievements need more respect.
“We need to put some respect on my man’s name,” Adesanya said, before going through Volkanovski’s recent record.
“[Elkins], Chad Mendes — a beast and he took him out, Jose Aldo — probably the underdog in that fight but took him out, Max Holloway — was definitely the underdog in that fight but he took him out.
“I have ultimate faith in him. Because of his team, that’s why. Because I know what we work on.
“You’re not going to beat Alex, not on this watch. I know who he is. He doesn’t get tired, he’ll put a pace on you you can’t deal with.”
Volkanovski and Ortega are set to step into the cage at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.
Women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend her title against Lauren Murphy in the co-main, while Nick Diaz makes his long-awaited return in a five-round, non-title middleweight bout with Robbie Lawler.
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