Alexander Volkanovski is preparing for his return to the UFC 290 ring next Saturday evening in Las Vegas.
His last appearance in the octagon took place in his homeland of Perth, Australia this past February. As the reigning UFC featherweight champion, Volkanovski, also known as “The Great”, sought to secure his place in MMA history by becoming a dual-division champion through defeating lightweight leader, Islam Makhachev. Despite pushing Makhachev to his limits during a 25-fight undefeated streak, Volkanovski ultimately fell short, with Makhachev winning a unanimous decision.
On the same evening, Yair Rodriguez claimed the interim featherweight title by submitting Josh Emmett in the second round with a triangle choke. Rodriguez, one of Mexico’s most accomplished fighters, will now have an opportunity to consolidate the 145-pound title during the International Fight Week. Following these pivotal moments for both featherweight contenders, former flyweight and bantamweight champion, Henry Cejudo, made his comeback, although he was defeated in a split decision against current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, derailing his plans for a shot at the featherweight title.
Cejudo has not held back in expressing his desire to face off against Volkanovski, but he now predicts that “El Pantera” (Rodriguez) might get there first.
“Most of you are probably backing Alexander Volkanovski, I get that,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “However, if Yair can focus and capitalize on the strategies I’ve discussed, given his natural talent, I think Yair Rodriguez is a fundamentally different fight than Islam Makhachev, and possibly a more challenging one. Expect a lot more kicks from him. Even if you manage to take him down, he’ll be a ferocious opponent on the ground.”
As for Rodriguez’s strategy, Cejudo advises, “Yair, you don’t have to go all out with your power. I can easily envision you winning on points. There’s no need for a knockout, just outscore him.”
The contrasting fighting styles of Makhachev and Rodriguez are undeniable. Volkanovski has already acknowledged the diverse offensive strategy that Rodriguez will bring. Makhachev, while one of the toughest opponents in the 155-pound division, lacks the unpredictability of Rodriguez, who prefers to take his opponents down and pummel them, if they can’t stop him.
2023 has been a year of triumph for Mexico, with Rodriguez holding one of three UFC titles. The only setback came when Irene Aldana lost to Amanda Nunes in a unanimous decision at UFC 289 earlier this month. Cejudo, however, is confident that Rodriguez can right the ship.
“Whether it’s the Brandon Moreno effect or something else, if I had to pick a winner, I’d go with [Rodriguez] as the new featherweight champion. I’m serious about this,” Cejudo stated.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about
Who is Alexander Volkanovski preparing to face in UFC 290?
Alexander Volkanovski is preparing to face Yair Rodriguez in UFC 290.
What was the outcome of Alexander Volkanovski’s last fight?
Alexander Volkanovski’s last fight ended in a loss, with Islam Makhachev winning by unanimous decision.
Who is the interim featherweight champion crowned on the same night as Volkanovski’s last fight?
Yair Rodriguez was crowned the interim featherweight champion on the same night as Volkanovski’s last fight.
Who does Henry Cejudo believe could pose a greater challenge for Volkanovski?
Henry Cejudo believes that Yair Rodriguez could pose a greater challenge for Volkanovski than Islam Makhachev.
What has been Henry Cejudo’s role in recent UFC events?
Henry Cejudo recently made a comeback to UFC but lost by a split decision to current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. He has also expressed his interest in facing Volkanovski.