As the lights dim and the crowd roars, there is one man who remains unruffled - Alexander Volkanovski, the star of the featherweight division. Volkanovski, affectionately known as "The Great," is set to headline UFC 290 this coming Saturday in Las Vegas, making his much-anticipated return to the featherweight division.
He is returning to the division where he first made his mark, after a faltered attempt to secure the lightweight title in February this year, in a fight that saw him bow to Islam Makhachev. His next challenger? Mexico's interim champion, Yair Rodriguez.
However, Volkanovski had already been in the crosshairs of former two-time flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, before Rodriguez's challenge was even presented. Cejudo, who consistently labelled Volkanovski as "average," had his sights set on seizing the third division title from him upon his return from a three-year retirement.
Yet, his plans were thwarted by a split decision loss to current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in May.
Cejudo's Changed Perception and the Rise of Volkanovski
Cejudo's views have significantly shifted. Now, "Triple C" showers Volkanovski with praises and strongly believes that a victory against Rodriguez could catapult "Volk" to a new stratosphere of greatness, possibly crowning him as the all-time best in the featherweight division.
Cejudo addressed this on his YouTube channel, asking, "Where does a win like this put Alexander Volkanovski? What would you rank him? Would he eventually beat out a guy like Jose Aldo? My answer, guys, is 100 percent." "He's not just beaten Aldo, he's going to surpass his record in numbers, and the way he's been doing it — putting out those who put out Aldo — he's done a tremendous job," Cejudo continued.
"What's missing for Alexander Volkanovski after this fight is potentially another belt or another shot at 155 pounds." Jose Aldo has long been viewed by fans, fighters, and experts in the MMA community as the best featherweight of all time.
Volkanovski earned his initial title shot by defeating the legendary "King of Rio" in enemy territory, a victory declared by unanimous decision. Currently, Volkanovski holds wins over every other UFC featherweight champion, with the exception of Conor McGregor. However, this is of no consequence as his position at the apex of the all-time list seems secure.
Henry Cejudo thinks Alexa Grasso will remain champion this Saturday
Alexander Volkanovski wants to fight Islam Makhachev for the rematch at UFC 300
Henry Cejudo: Israel Adesanya will defend his belt with a knockout victory
Sean O'Malley claims he can teach Henry Cejudo a few things about wrestling
Henry Cejudo reveals the PPV buys for UFC 292: “I have friends at ESPN”
Alexander Volkanovski shuts down the possibility of fighting Aljamain Sterling