After raising eyebrows in his backstage press conference immediately following UFC 294, Alexander Volkanovski wanted to clear the air about his mental health and plans to return to action.
In an over nine-minute video posted to his YouTube channel on Tuesday, the current featherweight champion shed light on his quick knockout loss to Islam Makhachev and added context to his prior words.
“I want everyone to know physically, mentally, I’m okay,” Alexander Volkanovski began before giving a deeper dive into what transpired in the Octagon last Saturday.
“I felt very strong. So even when he did clinch up I thought ‘We’re good here.’ But just on the feet, I just couldn’t pull the trigger,” he admitted. “I was talking to myself in there like ‘come on, you gotta go, do something…I just couldn’t do it.”
Without taking credit away from Makhachev, Alexander Volkanovski believes the key to his defeat was a lack of preparation due to his last notice booking.
“I wasn’t as prepared as I usually am. I think you need to have them sparring rounds. You need to see the shots, defensively and all of that. You need to have these bodies in front of you consistently to help you.”
While being interviewed by the media after the bout, Volkanovski held back tears as he discussed needing to stay busy in the cage to avoid “doing [his] head in.” The City Kickboxing standout wanted to alleviate concerns, attributing his choice of words to the “raw emotion” he felt moments after such a disappointing loss.
“I just got knocked out. I lost…that was obviously hurting me,” Volkanovski said.
He admitted to “struggling the last few moments” under the weight of fatherhood (he and his wife just had their third child two months ago) and recovering from surgery following his win over Yair Rodriguez in July. However, he insisted that he’s handling the mental difficulties with the help of a sports psychologist and having “these conversations” regularly.
What’s Next for Alexander Volkanovski?
When the topic switched to what the future holds, Volkanovski doubled down on his intentions to make a quick turnaround. If doctors clear him and the cuts he received against Makhachev have healed, he wants to return to the original plan of defending the featherweight strap against Ilia Topuria.
Right now, the UFC’s official website doesn’t have any January dates listed. The promotion also hasn’t confirmed Alexander Volkanovski or a featherweight title fight in January. However, both Sherdog and Tapology have UFC 297 set for Jan. 20 in Toronto. The latter has Volkanovski vs. Topuria as a rumored main event.
Both sites point to a pivotal contest in the division between Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev on the main card. Between those two, Topuria, and Max Holloway an interim strap sounds very possible if Volkanovski is unable to compete on that timetable.