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Volkanovski ‘was drinking every day’ before taking Makhachev rematch

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Alexander Volkanovski has shed further light into his frustration and emotional state that made headlines following his knockout loss to Islam Makhachev.

A lot was made of Volkanovski’s post-fight press conference at UFC 294 in October, when he broke down in front of the media and got opened up on his defeat and struggles with inactivity. During an interview with FREESTYLEBENDER, Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) revealed he was drinking alcohol every day prior to getting the call to rematch Makhachev on just 12 days’ notice.

The Australian, who said he’s not a daily drinker, was caught with his guard down after he was a few months removed from defending his UFC featherweight title vs. Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in July, and was recovering from a hand surgery. Not being ready to fully seize the opportunity of a rematch with Makhachev, who first beat him in a controversial decision at UFC 284 in February 2023, is something that bothers Volkanovski to this day.

“It was like a little kick up arse for me – I wasn’t disciplined,” Volkanovski said regarding his second defeat to Makhachev. “I’m known for being disciplined all year round, 24/7 and I just wasn’t that time. I was really disappointed. I was more upset with who I was in the previous months leading up to that. To be honest, it made it a little easier because it snapped me out of it. It snapped me out of it. I was drinking every day for like three or four weeks.

“Honestly, that’s unheard of for me. Like (drinking) every day. I’ve never, ever done that. But I was like, ‘Ah, I’m not training much,’ and the surgery and just trying to help around the house I was like, ‘All right, I’ll have a couple of drinks here, they’ll go down good,’ you know what I mean? It was going down too good. Every day I went to cans with the fam and come back and even then I was like, ‘Man, this has to stop.’ I was saying that even the day I before I got the call. I was (183 pounds) that day. I went to my strength and conditioning coach, and we did some tests and I stood on the scale, and I was 83 (kilograms). All the boys in the gym were laughing. I’ve never been that heavy.”

Volkanovski said the drinking wasn’t out of hand. He wasn’t binge-drinking, but still doesn’t think daily drinking is something a professional fighter should be doing, especially if he’s open to accepting short notice fights.

On the bright side, Volkanovski does think taking the Makhachev rematch served him some good, because he had to gets his vices under control.

“I was like, ‘Let’s do it, I need to snap out of this little rut that I’m in,’” Volkanovski said. “This is exciting, this is a challenge, and this is something I need right now. So I was just a little disappointed that time. Losing is always going to suck, but you lose to a fighter like Islam, it’s OK. I know I can beat him. I’ve proven that, but he caught me. All credit to him. I’m not taking anything away from him. He set up that kick and there’s not much I can say. I was just disappointed with the guy I was leading into that.”

Volkanovski, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie pound-for-pound rankings, returns to the octagon on Feb. 17 when he puts his featherweight title on the line against undefeated challenger Ilia Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC 298, which takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+).

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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