Australia’s Alex Volkanovski (7-1) had his reasons for walking away from a successful Rugby career. Money wasn’t one of them.
You see, the 26-year-old had a couple of MMA fights in his last year in the Rugby league, and after doing well in each of those outings, he realized the feeling of hitting the bags in the gym and practicing on the mats was one he just couldn’t afford to miss out on.
“I loved [the] Rugby league and I was good at it but I’ve always loved Martial Arts too,” Volkanovski told MMASucka.com in an exclusive interview. “I did really well in my first bunch of MMA fights, so I decided to take it seriously after finishing the Rugby season on a good note. As a matter of fact, my team won the first grade final, and I was awarded ‘Man of the Match’.”
For an athlete who now fights at his comfort zone at Featherweight, that wasn’t always the case, though. The Shellharbour, New South Wales native walked around at a whopping 200-lbs during his days in the Rugby realm, and fought as high as Middleweight and Welterweight in his early MMA tussles.
The first true test of his career came against Corey Nelson, a highly touted Welterweight prospect who could have gotten into the UFC’s ‘TUF: Nations’ house, lest for his past legal quandaries. Although Volkanovski suffered his first career setback that night, he admitted he had to make a few tweaks to progress.
“My first few fights were at Middleweight, then my first four professional fights were at Welterweight,” Volkanovski explained. “I fought Corey Nelson, who is known to be one of the best fighters in that division in Australia, and lost. But the fight made me realize that I was way too small for that division.”
“So I now fight at 145-lbs and I’m very happy with the weight and division.”
Ironically, Volkanovski, a former Roshambo champ, believes it wasn’t until recently that fans started noticing his name. The 26-year-old was penciled in to face Nova Uniao prospect Rodolfo Marques at AFC 8 in February, but was forced to withdraw on fight week after suffering a gruesome hand infection.
‘The Hulk’ headed into that tilt as an underdog anyway, and on paper, was expected to lose. But the Australian was determined to make a mark for himself and begged the matchmakers to reschedule it for AFC 9. And then, he won by knockout.
“It was a huge win for me against Rodolfo Marques, especially to KO him early in the first round,” Volkanovski added. “I was unfortunate to get the golden staph injury on the week of the fight but I wanted to fight badly, because he is known to be one of the best Featherweights fighting in Australia. People started noticing my knowing my name a lot more after that victory and it was really good.”
Volkanovski is now waiting for his next opportunity, which comes this Friday at PXC 45 in Guam. While the Tiger Muay Thai native is certainly hoping to build on the momentum that has stretched since the turn of the year, he is equally excited at representing his country on one of Asian MMA’s prolific platforms.
“I’m glad to be signed with PXC and I think I’m the first Australian in the promotion. I’m looking forward to represent my country,” he concluded. “I’m fighting Kyle Reyes, who is an aggressive fighter like me, so you can bet it’s going to shape up to be a good fight.”
“I’m looking to set a statement so I can get closer to that PXC belt. And it is very important to keep the winning streak rolling so I can do what all MMA fighters want to do and that is to fight in the UFC. I refuse to lose until I make it to the top.”
Alex ‘The Hulk’ Volkanovski battles Guam’s own Kyle Reyes (5-2) in the co-main event of PXC 45, which takes place October 24 at the UOG Fieldhouse in Guam.
You can can catch the entire event via tape delay on LIVESTREAM.