Ilia Topuria not afraid to fight Alexander Volkanovski in Australia: ‘Wherever we go, I beat him’

Ilia Topuria not afraid to fight Alexander Volkanovski in Australia: ‘Wherever we go, I beat him’

Ilia Topuria is willing to head into enemy territory if it means a UFC title fight with featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.

In the main event of UFC Jacksonville this past Saturday, Topuria put on a dominant showing against Josh Emmett that kept his undefeated record intact and established him as one of the most dangerous challengers in the 145-pound division.

Topuria later said he is eyeing a title shot, but he would also be willing to fight Max Holloway if the UFC were to arrange for that matchup to happen in his adopted home of Spain. Presented with the possibility of having to fly to Australia to fight Volkanovski on the champ’s home turf, the featherweight challenger embraced it.

“No f****** problem,” Topuria said. “If I think I’m the best in the world, I can beat him in Australia, in Las Vegas, in Miami, in Spain, wherever we go, I beat him. Location is no problem.”

There’s no guarantee Volkanovski will still have the belt around his waist when Topuria is ready to fight again. The champ is currently set to defend it against interim champion Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 on July 8. Should Volkanovski continue his incredible reign, it’s possible he may once again jump up to 155 pounds for a rematch with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, who narrowly defeated him at UFC 284.

That’s one reason why Topuria is instead considering a fight with Holloway, but his main goal is to win a UFC title.

“Right now, I’m really focused on getting that championship belt,” he said. “I want to get that title fight, which I know that I deserve. But if they come out with some offer to go to Spain and make a fight in Spain with Max Holloway maybe, because if they told me to go to Spain to fight someone unknown, I’m not going to ask for that fight because I want to go for that belt. But if they come out and they told me, ‘We want to take the UFC to Spain and you’re going to fight with Max Holloway,’ I will say, ‘Hell yes, let’s go, let’s do it.’ I want to fight in front of my people.”

While a win over Holloway would further cement Topuria as the No. 1 contender at 145 pounds, he’s not entirely sure it’s necessary for him to beat anyone else to earn a championship opportunity. The way he sees it, he’s the best option to break Volkanovski’s iron grip on the division.

“That’s the most realistic situation for me,” Topuria said. “There is nothing else for me. I showed to everyone — even before this with Bryce Mitchell — in this division no one can match my level of skill inside the cage. Nobody can, no one. No one.

“So what else is there for me in this division but to fight for the title? If someone can stop me and someone’s thinking they’re the champ, no one else can do it.”

Asked for a pick, Topuria said that he expects Volkanovski to retain the belt at UFC 290. However, he stopped short of suggesting he is rooting for Volkanovski to win in order to keep a clear path for himself; if Volkanovski were to lose, it’s possible he’d be granted an immediate rematch against Rodriguez.

Topuria has waited this long to get his due, and no matter what’s next, he’s fine with waiting to find out.

“Like I said, one of the best skills I have is patience,” he said. “I can wait. I’m young, I’m 26 years old, I enjoy life. I’m happy with everything I have, so I can wait. I didn’t rush for anything. No problem.”

“It doesn’t matter for me,” he continued. “I have the goal, which is to become the world champion and if I have to wait, I’ll wait my whole life. Why am I not going to wait, like six more months or something like that? I’m going to wait.”

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