Alexander Volkanovski doesn’t like to cut corners.
Since joining the UFC in 2017 he’s defeated each of six opponents in convincing fashion, including a TKO victory over Chad Mendes at UFC 232. That slow climb to the top tier of the featherweight division helped Volkanovski establish himself as one of the top threats to Max Holloway’s belt.
But before he earns a shot at the current champion, he must face the greatest featherweight champion of all-time in Jose Aldo. And to top it all off, he has to do it in Rio De Janeiro.
But Volkanovski wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
“I’m the type of person that I put a lot of pressure on myself and I make things happen because I know what I’m doing,” Volkanovski said. “That’s something I believe that really helps me with some many things, whether that’s being a good person or being a good fighter.”
Aldo is hot off of back-to-back emphatic finishes, one over the gritty Jeremy Stephens and the other over Renato Moicano earlier this year. Volkanovski is happy that Aldo is coming into this fight on a win streak because that will make the impact of a victory that much greater.
“I’m here to get the job done,” Volkanovski said. “So I’m going to go and do that, beat Aldo in his hometown. That’s really saying something and sets me up for big things after this.”
The truth is Volkanovski is a fan of Aldo and while he has plenty of respect for the former featherweight king, he believes it is time for Aldo to pass the torch.
“I’m a fan of the sport and I’m a fan Aldo but at the same time I always knew I was going to be here,” Volkanovski said. “I know I’m mentally and physically prepared for this. I’m going to have to go do my thing, you know he’s done great things but it’s now my time “The Great” to go do greater things.”
In order for Volkanovski to take care of business he believes he has to push the pace and rely on his outstanding conditioning to outlast his competition. Volkanovski is also well aware of Aldo’s ability to get off to a quick start and finish his fights early. If he can fight smart and impose his gameplan in the fight’s first moments then he believes he will leave Rio with a win.
That is the formula that led him to grind Chad Mendes down, that’s what helped him finish Darren Elkins and it’s what he believes he can do to Aldo.
“I pride myself on being a mixed martial artist so I put it all together very, very well,” Volkanovski said. “So I’m planning on putting it all together and I’m gonna have him really worried about so many different things so it’s gonna be hard for him to pull the trigger. But he will be dangerous early but you’re going to see him slow down and you’re going to see him really, really react to things. He’s going to be thinking too much in there. I’m going to get him mentally and physically drained and that’s what I believe you’re going to see.”
MORE UFC 237: Jessica Andrade: Why I Fight | | Daniel Cormier’s Preview | Rose Namajunas’ Greatest Hits | Inside The Octagon | Anderson Silva Free Fight | Jared Cannonier Free Fight | Jessica Andrade Free Fight | Namajunas Capturing Gold | Training Day – Rose Namajunas | Embedded | Order UFC 237
Volkanovski knows that in order to be “The Great” you have to beat the greatest. And on Saturday he will believes he will do just that.
“The greatest featherweight of all-time, you’d have to give him that. But again, he’s done great things and he will be a hall of famer, he’s a legend forever,” Volkanovski said. “But it’s just my time now. For me to move forward and for me to look after my family I have to win and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Don’t miss out on this epic featherweight match-up. Tune into UFC 237 Saturday at 6:15pm/ 3:15pm ETPT with the UFC Fight Pass Early prelims. The ESPN+ prelims begin at 8pm/5pm ET.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews