Alexander Volkanovski Reflects On An Unparalleled Career

Alexander Volkanovski reflects on his unparalleled career

Fresh off a starring role in a Kia ad, the UFC icon discusses his humble beginnings, how he tackles both wins and losses, the legacy he hopes to leave and why a ute is his kind of car.

NOT A LOT phases Australian UFC star Alex Volkanovski. While the featherweight division’s GOAT may have recently surrendered his belt to Georgian-Spaniard fighter Ilia Topuria at UFC 298, you would be surprised if Volkanovski let the defeat affect his long term plans or alter his singular goal: to keep getting better.

“I’m in a position where I keep challenging myself, so I want to do things that people haven’t done,” Volkanovski told MH while shooting Kia’s new instant-classic commercial announcing the company’s plans to release a ute, a few weeks out from the Topuria fight.

Featuring alongside Volkanovski in the commercial are a who’s who of Australian sporting icons, including former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh and David Boon, Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver, Australian soccer royalty John Aloisi and Mackenzie Arnold, AFL superstars Buddy Franklin and Dermott Brereton and NRL legends Darren Lockyer, Alfie Langer and Wendell Sailor. Volkanovski, who is still ranked no.1 in the UFC featherweight division and no.7 in the organisation’s pound-for-pound rankings, clearly belongs in such exalted company: he will likely go down as Australia’s greatest ever fighter.

It’s the 35-year-old’s constant thirst for a challenge that saw him agree to step up to lightweight to take on Islam Makhachev on 11 days’ notice at UFC 294 last October. He would lose in a first-round knockout but refuses to let the loss, or his recent defeat against Topuria, define him.

“I mean that loss [against Makhachev] definitely hurt me, but I look at it as a part of my story,” he says.

 

Volkanovski on set during filming of Kia’s recent commercial announcing the company’s upcoming release of a ute – Kia.

 

Until his loss to Topuria, the Wollongong fighter was undefeated at featherweight, a remarkable feat for the former rugby league player, who has spent much of his career being underestimated but generally chosen to lean into his underdog status. Despite the heights he’s reached, Volkanovski remains humble.

“I’m still just from the small town where I live,” he says. “I go home. I’m doing crazy things with movie stars or hanging out with Zuckerberg and then I go back home. As soon as I’m home, I’m dad. I just try and be the best father I can be, and then I’m back in the gym the next week. So that keeps me grounded, which I’m very thankful for. I still feel like that same guy that I was 10 years ago, so that’s why I’m always in the gym trying to get better, trying to do what needs to be done to keep myself in this position. Don’t get me wrong, I know where I’m at, but I don’t let that get to me.”

And while, there was a lot of talk about Volkanovski’s age in the lead-up to the Topuria fight, something the fighter played up to by dressing as an old man in his pre-fight promotions, he insists he remains as hungry as ever.

 

Volkanovski and Steve Waugh on set – Kia

 

“I’m probably more committed to the sport now than I was eight years ago,” he says. “I’m more passionate about it now. I’m in the gym as soon as the session’s finished. I’m probably boring my training partners with techniques because I’m just constantly getting into the details. That’s just how passionate I still am about it.”

Indeed, if you had to compare the Wollongong workhorse to a car, it would surely be a ute.

“That’s my look,” he agrees. “Hard-working. If anyone was ever going to sponsor a fighter, it’s going to be a company that has a Ute, that’s for sure.”

So, where would he take a Kia ute on a first drive? “I mean, it’s perfect timing. I’m getting a boat, as we speak, so I need a ute. I’ve got a caravan, so I’d go camping. I’m taking the family on a little holiday. What better than a ute to do that?”

 

 

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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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