Morning Report: Alexander Volkanovski will ‘let the head rest,’ promises next fight will be for title

Alexander Volkanovski won’t rush into his next fight.

Brain health has been the biggest area of concern for the now-former UFC featherweight champion since his tough first-round knockout loss to lightweight champion Islam Mahachev on short notice. The head kick heard at UFC 294 in October was the first finish defeat of “The Great” in the promotion and only his second (third overall, 26-4), which came after his initial unanimous decision shortcoming in the pair’s first encounter in February 2023.

Unfortunately for Australia’s all-time great, another — and arguably more — devastating knockout came in his rebound attempt when he returned to featherweight with hopes of a sixth successful title defense. Ilia Topuria cracked Volkanovski with a clean right hand against the cage in round two of their UFC 298 headliner bout earlier this month to win the title. Thanks to Volkanovski’s status as a long-reigning and accomplished champion, an instant rematch is a strong and justifiable possibility. However, he wants to be careful with his health and plans to return more appropriately compared to his recent two-fight stretch.

“I’m gonna let the head rest so the training’s gonna be clever, especially for a couple of months,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “It’s good. That’s what I’ve been able to do this week. I’ve felt great.

“Depending on what Ilia does, if he was to want to be very active and fight soon, which would mean my rematch would be rushed, alright, I’m happy to be like, ‘If you’re gonna be that active, I’m gonna have to wait.’ I know my next fight is definitely gonna be for the title and the rematch but if he was to go somewhere else because he’d want to be active, which I would be more than okay with.

“Obviously, I’m not gonna do that because of my head, you want to take that serious, but my next fight will definitely 100 percent be the rematch,” he concluded.

Should Topuria be an active champion, Volkanovski preemptively applauds him after believing he and former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya “set a good standard” for championship activity. Sadly for fans, Topuria has indicated since he claimed gold that an October or November return could be in the cards. That’s not necessarily a crazy guesstimate, but it would prevent a three-fight year that we’ve previously seen from the City Kickboxing products.

Ultimately, the 35-year-old Volkanovski admits to making mistakes in the Topuria matchup, noting how he felt that he was uncharacteristically fighting not to get caught. Without too much detail or giveaway, he sees things to work on and guarantees a change on collision No. 2 with “El Matador.”

“Mark my words, I am getting that belt back,” Volkanovski said. “I’m gonna do everything in my power. I’m gonna have some rest, but when I do decide to get back in there or when we do have a date, I’m gonna do everything in my power to make sure I get that belt back here to me and my family.

“I’ve always done it for my family, supporters, Australia and whatnot. It ain’t just gonna be about that. I’m doing that for me. I don’t think I’ve ever really done it for myself.”

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Good approach by Volk. Goes without saying.

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