After knocking off the legendary Jose Aldo earlier this month at UFC 237 in front of a hostile Brazilian crowd, featherweight contender Alexander Volkanovski truly believed he was going to be next in line for a shot at current division champion Max Holloway.
How can you blame him? The 30-year-old Volkanovski has produced a 7-0 record since entering the promotion back in 2016, including a decisive TKO finish over former title challenger Chad Mendes last December. In fact, “The Great” really hasn’t come close to losing inside of the Octagon despite his rapid ascension in one of the most talent-rich divisions in the sport.
Still, despite all of his recent success, which culminated into an impressive win against the red-hot Aldo, Volkanovski will not be getting the next shot at Holloway. That task will be essentially gifted to former UFC lightweight champion and perennial featherweight contender Frankie Edgar, who is riding a one-fight win streak with a recent decision victory over Cub Swanson.
As you may have expected, Team Volkanovski isn’t too happy about the UFC’s decision to skip “Great” in favor of booking Holloway vs. Edgar, which has been previously slated for UFC 218 and UFC 222 (injuries nixed both title fights).
“Gutted, mate. Absolutely livid. Livid. Livid,” Volkanovski’s coach, Eugene Bareman, recently told Submission Radio about the title snub. “Like, we talked about this for such a long time. We talked about it, our team talked about. Our goal was to set this scenario up. And for all our knowledge, this is what the UFC were looking for, this is what they wanted. They needed Volko to win that fight, they needed Israel [Adesanya] to get into position, and then we’ve got an Australasian super card set up all because of the work that we’ve put in and the position that we’ve put ourselves into. And that was all to get to this goal, to get to that super card. And we were obviously [thinking that] but the UFC was on a different page. We didn’t think so, but yeah, absolutely gutted. Is it not obvious?”
Volkanovski, who has been cooped up in a Chilean hospital due to a blood infection following his UFC 237 victory, undoubtedly deserves the next crack at Holloway. Edgar certainly has a legendary UFC resume to fall back on, but seven-straight wins, including a victory over Jose Aldo in Brazil, to start out your UFC career should count for something.
Despite Bareman’s belief that his fighter should have gotten the next title shot against “Blessed,” he promises that it has nothing to do with Edgar himself.
“This has nothing to do with Frankie,” Bareman said. “I mean, I don’t know Frankie, I don’t know his coaches, I don’t know his management or anything. And it’s not about that Frankie doesn’t deserve it. He probably does deserve it. He just doesn’t deserve it more than Alex Volkonovski deserves it. Unfortunately for Frankie, him and his team advised him to take that risky fight against Brian Ortega. And I fully understand why you gotta do that, because you can’t wait around forever, your family has to eat, you have to earn money. But it’s called a risk for a reason. I know Volko already alluded to this, that it’s called a risk for a reason. Unfortunately, he lost, and then he beat Cub Swanson. So now he’s won one fight, now he’s going into the title fight. Well, Volko’s won seven (in a row). Outside of the UFC he’s 17 in a row. Seven straight, just beat Aldo, who Frankie’s fought twice and never managed to best. The popular opinion out there amongst fans and so-called experts and analysts is that Volko was the next in line, and we were on that same thought train and to have it ripped out from underneath us is devastating for our team, devastating to be honest.”
Barring any unforeseen injuries, Holloway vs. Edgar is expected to take place at UFC 240 on July 27 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. If something should happen to either fighter you better believe UFC will be knocking on Volkanovski’s door (assuming he’s medically cleared to compete in two months).
What say you, Maniacs? Did Volkanovski get snubbed? Or does Edgar deserve one final shot at UFC gold?