Alex Volkanovski Is Ready To Teach Ilia Topuria A Lesson

Alex Volkanovski is ready to teach Ilia Topuria a lesson at UFC 298

The Aussie champion tells Men's Health why he will humble his opponent, then give him a pep talk and how he rates Mark Zuckerberg as a fighter.

ALEX VOLKANOVSKI HAS heard enough out of Ilia Topuria and plans to shut the young Spanish fighter’s mouth at UFC 298 at the Honda Centre in Annaheim, California, this weekend.

While the Spaniard is undefeated in 14 fights, the Wollongong warrior has no doubt he can take care of the young challenger.

“He’s young, he’s hungry, and he’s never been beaten,” Volkanovski told MH ahead of the fight. “He thinks he’s invincible. You what I mean? He thinks he’s a man. Fair play to him. Of course he’s going to think that, because he hasn’t lost, but now he gets to see what a whole other level looks like, and he’s going to feel that first round. As I said, he needs a bit of humbling and I’m willing to be that guy.”

The bout will be 35-year-old Volkanovski’s first since being knocked out by Islam Makhachev in their lightweight rematch last year. He famously only had 11 days’ prep for that fight.

Currently third in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings and undefeated at featherweight, Volkanovski says he was miffed that Topuria had the temerity to change his Instagram bio to ‘world champion’. The way Volkanovski sees it, by beating the Spaniard he will be teaching him a valuable, potentially career-shaping lesson in humility.

“I’m a nice guy, you know what I mean? So I think this is going to be better for his career. I think he needs something like this if he wants to be champion one day and have a legacy. He needs a bit of humbling and I’m going to do that for him. And that can be a part of his story. He’s just a part of my story right now. His story will start after I take him out.

“That’s just how I look at it. It’s not disrespectful, it’s just like, Mate, this is going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. He’s already changed his Instagram bio to world champion and all that. He hasn’t earned that. I earned everything I’ve come for, so I’m going to give him a little reality check and let him know that, Hey, you earn these stripes. You got given this title shot. You should be happy with that, but don’t let that change your mentality, your mindset, or who you are, and I feel like it has.

“As soon as I get the job done, I’ll be talking to him directly to tell him he needs to personally change that bio. I know it’s going to sting. But it’s going to be the best thing he’s ever done, because he’s going to change it himself and be like I’m never going to be that silly again.”

Volkanovski also reflected on the sparring session he and Israel Adesanya had with Mark Zuckerberg late last year. “Mate, he gets stuck into it,” said Volkanovski of the Meta CEO’s fighting chops. “You’ll be surprised, he trains hard. I guess he wouldn’t be where he was if he wasn’t committed to whatever he does, but yeah, he actually trains hard. I was being a little nicer and careful, but Izzy was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to push him or test him and let him feel a little bit more’, and he [Zuckerberg] actually did really well. He took it well and wanted more rounds after that, so credit to him, because Izzy wasn’t taking it easy.”



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Also on the card at UFC 298 is Aussie middleweight veteran Robert Whittaker, who takes on Brazilian Paulo Costa, in the co-main event.

Whittaker is desperate for another crack at the middleweight title after two losses to Israel Adesanya and a TKO defeat at the hands of new champion Dricus du Plessis in July last year. The Australian hasn’t won a fight via knockout since 2017 and he is determined to “hurt” Costa in a what could be do-or-die bout for the Aussie.

You can watch UFC 298 on Sunday February 18 (Australian time) on Main Event on Kayo Sports and Foxtel.


UFC 298 Fight Card

Alexander Volkanovski vs Illia Topuria — featherweight title (main event)

Robert Whittaker vs Paulo Costa — middleweight (co-main event)

Geoff Neal vs Ian Garry – welterweight

Merab Dvalishvili vs Henry Cejudo — middleweight



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By Ben Jhoty

Ben Jhoty, Men’s Health’s Head of Content, attempts to honour the brand’s health-conscious, aspirational ethos on weekdays while living marginally larger on weekends. A new father, when he’s not rocking an infant to sleep, he tries to get to the gym, shoot hoops and binge on streaming shows.

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