A good reason for that is his ultra-competitiveness. Although he is universally considered one of the best fighters, pound-for-pound, Volkanovski continuously finds or facilitates a way to put him in the mindset of an underdog.
“I think I’m hungrier than these guys trying to chase that belt, and I’ve always been that way,” he said. “I’m more dedicated to the sport, more passionate, more calculated. I think all this counts, especially when you’re defending your belt, so this is why I feel like I can defend it for so long: because I’m more passionate than ever.
He’ll need every bit of that passion, calculation and hunger against the undefeated Topuria. “El Madator” is a perfect 6-0 in the Octagon with four finishes ranging from the devastating to the sublime, but his most recent outing was arguably his most impressive.
Facing Josh Emmett in a five-round main event, Topuria smashed the former interim title challenger for 25 minutes en route to a unanimous decision that featured a 50-42 scorecard. The 26-year-old is understandably brimming with confidence, believing UFC 298 represents the day the Volkanovski-era ends and his own championship reign begins. Topuria even mused about his title shot actually being the “easiest” fight for him to date.