Alexander Volkanovski was born on September 29, 1988, in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. He is the current UFC Featherweight Champion and competes in the Featherweight division of the UFC. Additionally, he is also ranked #2 among men in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.
While Volkanovski’s mother is from Greece, his father was born in the SR Macedonian hamlet of Beranci. Alex started training in Greco-Roman wrestling at a young age. By the age of 12, had already won two national championships. At the age of 14, he made the decision to give up wrestling in favour of a front rower career in rugby league.
Volkanovski spent his adolescent years attending Lake Illawarra High School. After graduating, he worked as a concreter. Volkanovski competed in the Group 7 Rugby League as a semi-professional rugby league player with the Warilla Gorillas. This is where he won the Mick Cronin Medal as the league’s top player in 2010. He also had a significant impact on Warilla’s 2011 Premiership-winning campaign.
In the latter part of 2011, Volkanovski made the decision to leave rugby league at the age of 23 in order to pursue a professional career in mixed martial arts. He claims to have been a longtime fan of the UFC. He often rented UFC VHS recordings from Blockbuster and bought UFC pay-per-view events when he was younger.
Volkanovski began training in MMA and Greco-Roman wrestling at the age of 22, according to his coach Joe Lopez.
At the time, Volkanovski weighed 97 kg (214 lb) and played rugby league. He quickly discovered that he was passionate about MMA and wanted to excel at it. Volkanovski developed fast into a great offensive wrestler as well as a solid counter-striker with a strong overhand right.
Prior to going professional and dropping down to the welterweight, lightweight, and eventually featherweight divisions, he first engaged in a number of middleweight contests as an amateur while he adapted from his rugby weight.
Volkanovski competed in MMA matches in the Oceania area of Asia from 2012 to July 2016 before joining the UFC. He started off as an amateur middleweight and went 4-0 before becoming professional.
Volkanovski won two Australian Fighting Championship Featherweight championships in addition to a Pacific Xtreme Combat title. Prior to entering the UFC, Volkanovski compiled a 13-1 record with 10 consecutive victories.
In November 2016, Volkanovski made his official debut. At UFC Fight Night 101, he defeated Yusuke Kasuya in the second round to extend his winning streak to 11. At the news conference after the match, Volkanovski said that he will switch weight classes for his next bout. He said that he would be moving from lightweight to featherweight.
In December 2018, Volkanovski competed against Chad Mendes at UFC 232. After surviving two knockdowns, he won the bout by technical knockout in round two. Additionally, Volkanovski won the Fight of the Night award for this match.
In May 2019, Volkanovski competed against former featherweight champion José Aldo. He won the match via unanimous decision.
At UFC 245 in December 2019, Volkanovski squared off against Max Holloway for the UFC Featherweight Championship. Volkanovski won by unanimous decision in the match.
The coaches for TUF 29 on ESPN+ included bantamweight and middleweight competitors. The coaches for the season were revealed to be Brian Ortega and Alexander Volkanovski.
At UFC 266 in September 2021, Volkanovski competed against Brian Ortega for the UFC Featherweight Championship. He was declared the winner by unanimous decision.
Volkanovski was slated to compete against Max Holloway for a third time at UFC 272. However, Holloway was compelled to cancel the event due to an injury. Holloway was replaced by Chan Sung Jung, and the championship match was pushed to UFC 273. Volkanovski ended up winning the bout by TKO in the fourth round after repeatedly hitting Jung to the ground.
The trilogy matchup with Holloway was moved to July 2022 at UFC 276. Volkanovski won the match through unanimous decision after receiving a 50-45 score from each of the three judges.
Volkanovski competed against reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev in February 2023 at UFC 284. He was defeated in the match via unanimous decisions.
On July 8, 2023, Volkanoski will compete at UFC 290. He will be facing Yair Rodrguez to defend the UFC Featherweight Championship.
Additionally, Volkanovski competed in one boxing match. It was in a Super welterweight match against Dillon Bargero. He ended up winning the match by majority decision after four rounds.
Volkanovski has two daughters and is married to his partner, Emma.
He had an appearance as a coach in the amateur MMA reality series ‘Malaysia Invasion’. Volkanovski adopted the moniker ‘The Great’ in homage to Alexander the Great, stating that the latter shared ‘a Macedonian father and a Greek mother’ like himself.
Volkanovski trains often at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket and City Kickboxing in Auckland alongside other UFC combatants. He often trains with current UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker, and Kai Kara-France. Volkanovski is based at Freestyle Fighting Gym in Wollongong. Additionally, Eugene Bareman and Craig Jones have worked on his team.
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