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Ilia Topuria Vows to Make Alexander Volkanovski ‘Look Like a Punching Bag’ at UFC 298


Topuria plans on reaching new career highs in 2024.

Topuria is slated to challenge Alexander
Volkanovski for the
Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight title in the main
event at
UFC 298 on Feb. 17 in Anaheim, California.

“El Matador” has exuded an unprecedented amount of confidence going
into the fight and continues to do so. While oddsmakers have it as
a near toss-up, Topuria vows to knock out the Australian standout
in the opening round.

“It’s going to be a first-round knockout. You will see. He’s saying
a lot of bulls—t, ‘There’s levels, I have this and I have that,
dah, dah, dah.’ You’re right, there are levels. There are levels,
then there is me. I’m going to show you where the levels are. I’m
going to dominate him everywhere. I’m going to make him look like a
punching bag. You will see. I will be dancing Feb. 17,” Topuria
said during an appearance on “The
MMA Hour.”

While Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight title
against Yair
Rodriguez last year, “The Great” also suffered two losses in
failed double-champ bids against Islam
Makhachev, including a head kick knockout loss in October.
Topuria believes Volkanovski’s first losses since 2013 showed
enough for the Australian to consider retirement.

“You are talking to the best fighter in the world. I’m the best,”
Topuria said. “He is one of the best. You have to give him his
credit. He was a great champion, he was pound-for-pound No. 1. He
was one of the greatest, without any doubt. One of the greats in
the featherweight division, and he will always be remembered like
that, like one of the greatest in this division. And I’m happy to
be the man who is going to give him the bad news on Feb. 17: He’s
old. It’s time to move on. It’s time for the new generation. He’s
old. He already lost. He has all the signals that he has to retire.
He had his moments in this sport and now it’s time to move on. It’s
time for the new blood, and I represent the new generation. I
represent the evolution of mixed martial arts.”

Once he gets past “The Great,” Topuria is eyeing the biggest star
in the history of the sport, Conor
McGregor, for a clash in Spain.

“The way I’m going to beat him, they aren’t even going to ask me
about a rematch… Conor McGregor, that’s the fight I’m looking
for,” Topuria said. “He has a great fight with Mike Chandler. If he
doesn’t get his ass whooped, he will have the pleasure to share the
Octagon with me. Maybe in UFC Spain. We’re both from Europe, and he
will be able to go back home and tell his wife, ‘Baby, take out the
red panties. Topuria kept us rich.’”

Topuria isn’t interested in defending his title against Max
Holloway, Rodriguez or Brian
Ortega, who are all Volkanovski’s fallen opponents.

“How? I’m going to beat the guy who whooped his ass three times?
How? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Max, Yair, Brian Ortega,
all of them, they can go and retire. I’m never going to give them
the chance to fight for the title.”

While Topuria doesn’t have an alternative opponent in mind apart
from McGregor, he insists that the UFC will debut in his home
country of Spain this year, preferably at the Santiago Bernabéu
Stadium, the home of Real Madrid.

“Of course. It’s going to happen in 2024,” he said. “I don’t know
when. At the end of the year, maybe. I hope it’s going to happen in
Madrid at the [Real Madrid stadium]. The stadium is ready to make
events. You can close the roof, you can [cover the grass]. They
made it especially for events, so it would be one of the biggest
ticket sales in UFC history.

“This is what [UFC] told me, but we’re considering all options.
We’ll see. But in Spain, of course it’s going to happen. UFC Spain,
that’s for sure.”

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