Monday, December 16, 2019

From Warilla Gorilla to world champion: Volkanovski revels in victory

Alexander Volkanovski is nursing a broken hand, a black eye and sore ears – but the most notable new feature is the giant gold belt sitting over his shoulder.

"To be honest it hasn't really sunk in yet," the newly-minted UFC featherweight champion said on Tuesday afternoon. "It's hard for me to really soak things up but I'm sure it'll kick in."

“Whoever’s in front of me, we’ll work out a game plan. I’m too well rounded”: Alexander Volkanovski.Credit:Kate Geraghty

A massive underdog with the bookies, Volkanovski – a former Group 7 rugby league player with the Warilla Gorillas in the Illawarra – upset long-time champion Max Holloway in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The American hadn't lost a fight in this weight class in six years –  but Volkanovski was far from shocked after his victory.

"I wasn't surprised. A lot of my game plans have worked very well… I tried telling people we're ahead of the game, we know things that he does really well – we probably know things that he does that he doesn't even know he does very well.

"I'm not a cocky type of person, but I'm confident and I said this was going to happen."

“Give me a couple more fights and everyone will start throwing my name around as pound for pound number one.”Credit:Kate Geraghty

The future couldn't be brighter, but Volkanovski isn't thinking about who he'll fight next. The immediate goal is simply to eat some Christmas food and spend time with his family.

After arguably the most impressive year of any fighter in the world in 2019, few could deny he has earned it.

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