UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (25-2 MMA, 12-1 UFC) may think he’s the best fighter in the world, but he’s not taking his next opponent, UFC interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez (15-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) lightly. In fact, Volkanovski thinks that Yair Rodriguez ‘could be one of the most dangerous fighters’ he’s fought — and this is coming from a guy who went up a weight class and held his own against one of the top pound-for-pound MMA fighters in the world, Islam Makhachev at UFC 284.
“I’m looking at him as a real challenger, like he’s a dangerous fighter,” Volkanovski said in a video chat with The Mac Life. “He could be one of the most dangerous fighters I’ve fought really. When you talk about unpredictability and knockout power and so many different tools, you need to take him really serious. I think I’m the best fighter in the world, so am I confident? Yeah, but I know not to take this guy lightly. He’s been dominating and looking good in his last few fights.”
Volkanovski believes that Rodriguez, who has four wins out of his last five contests, and beat the hard-hitting Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight championship by triangle choke submission in the second round of their fight at UFC 284, has stepped up his game in the past few years and that the challenge in facing an improved Rodriguez is one that excites him.
“He was very good with his flashy stuff, but that’s all he sort of cared about,” Volkanovski continued. “Now he looks like he’s a lot more comfortable at all ranges. He looks very unpredictable, when you’re pressuring him at a long range, no matter where it is, he can fire all different things from all different angles. That’s always a big threat, so it’s good. That’s when the master game planning and the fight IQ and all that type of stuff needs to come in, and (I’m) looking forward to it because, again, that excites me.”
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez is currently set for July 8th at UFC 290 in Las Vegas.