What WME Should See: Alexander Volkanovski

Alexander Volkanovski
Alexander Volkanovski of Australia stares across at Jeremy Kennedy of Canada in their featherweight bout during the UFC 221 event at Perth Arena on February 11, 2018 in Perth, Australia.

Far too often in MMA, fighters with fascinating backstories and unique talents are under-promoted. This lack of promotion is a massive blow to the wallets of these fighters, and, ironically, hurts the bottom line of the organization that makes such promotional missteps. In “What WME Should See“, we look at a fighter who should be getting a big push from their promoters, but for whatever reason isn’t, and detail just why – and how – they should. For today’s edition, we’ll take a look at Alexander Volkanovski.

The Fighter

Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (18-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is a twenty-nine year old Australian competing in the UFC’s featherweight division. Currently ranked eleventh in the division, Volkanovski spent his pre-UFC years in a host of Australian regional promotions, including PXC, Roshambo MMA, and Wollongong Wars.

Since signing with the UFC, Volkanovski has been on a tear. He is undefeated inside the Octagon, and boasts two TKO victories in his five UFC appearances. Oh, and he’s also on a fifteen-fight winning streak, most recently outpointing the ever-durable Darren Elkins back in July.

 

The Context

Featherweight is undergoing a changing of the guard. The “Blessed Era”, championed by title-holder Max Holloway, is underway. Likewise, young contenders like Brian Ortega, Renato Moicano, and Yair Rodriguez have asserted themselves at the top of the division.

One of the more unheralded new faces, of course, is Alexander “The Great” himself. Volkanovski recently made his way into the UFC’s rankings with a dominant win over Elkins.

Hopefully, the new number next to his name will lead to a series of better opportunities for Volkanovski, but they’ve been few and far between for the Australian so far.

The Roadblocks

In a division as fraught with viable contenders as featherweight is, some fighters are inevitably stuck with the short end of the promotional bargain. Volkanovski has struggled to get high-profile matchups; his latest bout with Elkins was his first ranked opponent.

Alexander Volkanovski
Photo Credit: Combat Docket

The UFC has yet to put Volkanovski in any high profile fights in high profile situations.

The Way to Promote Alexander Volkanovski

To maximize Volkanovski’s promotional value, there are several steps the UFC – and WME – can take.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie

The UFC has done a fantastic job of getting Volkanovski in front of his hometown fans. Volkanovski fought at UFC Fight Night 101 in 2016, UFC Fight Night 110 and UFC Fight Night 121 in 2017, and UFC 221 this year, all of which took place in Australia.

Keeping “The Great” in ANZAC territory is key to creating a hometown hero. With champion Robert Whittaker, Megan Anderson, Tai Tuivasa, and several other prominent Australians entering the UFC ranks, the time to push Volkanovski is now.

The upcoming UFC Adelaide card, scheduled for December 1st, could be a great way to keep that momentum building.

Book Him in Primetime

In order to truly shine a spotlight on Alexander Volkanovski, you have to put him under one. With the exception of Elkins, Volkanovski has fought no ranked contenders. He’s also only fought on the main card a handful of times.

Keeping Volkanovski on the prelims contributes to his underrated nature. It also generally lowers the number of viewers who watch him fight. Putting Volkanovski on the main card accentuates his fighting and his personality.

Let Him Climb the Ladder

After beating Elkins, Volkanovski called out Chad Mendes (18-4), who had also won on the UFC Boise card following a lengthy USADA suspension). A matchup with Mendes would offer Volkanovski a litmus test on his current and potential talent level, his highest profile fight to date, and a chance to enter the upper echelon of the UFC’s 145-pound division.

If not Mendes, perhaps someone like Jeremy Stephens, who recently lost to Jose Aldo; Cub Swanson, who recently fell to Renato Moicano; or Josh Emmett, who fell to the aforementioned Stephens. Onward and upward for “The Great”.

 

The Verdict

Now with an 18-1 career record and five straight wins inside the Octagon, Alexander Volkanovski might well be the next hype train at featherweight. The problem is whether or not the majority of MMA will hear him coming.

What WME should see is a surging featherweight who has steamrolled each of his five UFC opponents and has a nation behind him. And what they should do is promote him.

 

 

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images

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