Arnold Allen unsure of Alex Volkanovski’s quick turnaround: ‘I’d hate to see his legacy fall apart because of a silly decision’


Arnold Allen isn’t sure which way he’s leaning for his division’s next title fight at UFC 298, but he already sees at least one major red flag for Alexander Volkanovski.

Volkanovski defends his featherweight title on Feb. 17 in the main event of the Anaheim pay-per-view against undefeated challenger Ilia Topuria. The bout comes less than four months after Volkanovski suffered a brutal knockout at the hands of UFC lightweight king Islam Makhachev in a short-notice rematch this past October, and Allen can’t help but wonder if the 35-year-old champion is making a mistake by committing to such a quick turnaround.

“I haven’t set a pick, but I don’t like how soon Volk’s coming back after that fight,” Allen said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “It was a few months ago now, but still, then you should’ve probably taken a long time out of the gym, or definitely not sparring at least a month or something. And then to go straight back? But if he’s the kind of guy who went full bore straight into it, hopefully he’s in tip-top shape. And Ilia’s good, man. He’s a good boxer, good wrestler, good jui-jitsu, solid black belt, and poses some good problems, so it’s going to be an interesting fight. I just hope Volk turns up tip-top and you get the best version of him and it’s not [too soon]. I’d hate to see his legacy fall apart because of a silly decision.”

Volkanovski is unbeaten as a featherweight since debuting in the UFC in 2016 and already stands among the greatest 145-pound fighters in MMA history, holding victories over top names such as Max Holloway (x3), Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Brian Ortega, Chan Sung Jung, and Yair Rodriguez. His bout against Topuria will mark the sixth defense of his UFC title.

However, Volkanovski is also the oldest champion under 170 pounds in UFC history, and his once invincible veneer was cracked not once, but twice in 2023 by Makhachev. The rematch at UFC 294, in particular, was a disastrous affair, as Volkanovski stepped in as an injury replacement on less than two weeks’ notice and suffered a devastating head-kick knockout — his first knockout loss since a 2013 welterweight bout on the regional scene.

In comparing MMA to boxing, Allen noted that if the roles were reversed and the pound-for-pound king of the sweet science, Terence Crawford, were presented a bout under the same circumstances as Volkanovski, “it wouldn’t even be considered.” But MMA is a different beast with different expectations thrust on its athletes, of course, and while Allen admitted that he likely would’ve made the same decision as Volkanovski, he still was surprised that the featherweight champ accepted the Makhachev rematch in the state he did.

“I mean, I don’t know how much money he made. I’m sure it’s [a lot] more than I make,” Allen said with a laugh. “But, I mean, if you put me in the same situation, I’ll get to take however [much] — if it’s $10 million, I could do with $10 million right now. That’d be nice. But, you know, he is the champion, the pound-for-pound king, so I’m sure those paydays are going to come again and again, so I don’t know. I don’t know. But when I saw it, because he posted something, he had stitches in his arm and he was not training really, I was like, ‘Oh, you know, he’s injured.’ And then he took the fight. I was like, ‘What the f***?’”


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