THE Hulk may be no more but Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski is well and truly on the rise after earning an impressive stoppage win on UFC debut in Melbourne on Sunday.
The former Warilla Gorillas front-rower changed his fighting moniker ahead of his first appearance on the biggest stage in honour of his Greek and Macedonian heritage but it was the same old story inside the cage as he extended his winning streak to 11 straight victories..
The 28-year-old mounted an irresistible case to step up the sport’s premier fighting promotion with his domination of the domestic scene and he looked a class above opponent Yasuke Kasuya on Sunday.
Volkanovski took his Japanese opponent to the mat with ease early in the first round unleashing some hellish ground and pound. He continued in the second round prompting referee Greg Klenyans to call a stop to the bout awarding him a TKO win.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Volakanovski said post-fight.
“Everyone here knows it’s been a while and I should’ve been in here a long time ago. The original plan was to go for the knockout but in the clinch I felt stronger than him.
“Even though he got on top of me I was just being patient. I probably shouldn’t have been that patient but once I was on top I felt too strong and just went for the finish.”
Volkanovski remains undefeated at featherweight despite debuting at lightweight on Sunday and said he’ll fight whoever is put in front of him.
“I wasn’t happy just to make the UFC, I want to hit to the top ranks. I’m going to shoot through whoever they put in front of me,” he said.
“It’s obvious, I’m five-foot-five, I’m the smallest lightweight in the division, I’m the smallest in featherweight in the division. I want to work down to the bantamweight division but that’s not up to me. I’ve fought up to middleweight so I’ll fight wherever they want me.
“Let’s see me take out that featherweight division.”
Australia’s rising middleweight star Robert Whittaker nearly lifted the roof of Rod Laver Arena in the main event, stopping American Derek Brunson after four action-packed minutes.
Whittaker – who watched current middleweight champ Michael Bisping’s stunning upset of Luke Rockhold earlier this year from the North Gong Hotel bistro – weathered an early storm for Brunson to get the finish that could well put him within one fight of a UFC title shot.
“We had a solid game plan and we knew he was going to come out tough but I don’t know he’d come out that hard,” Whittaker said.
“I knew I had to weather the storm, he’s a heavy-hitter and I had to duck and weave but I stuck to the game plan, I stuck to my set-up.
“He hits very hard, his other opponents would testify to that but I hit hard to, I’m just as fast, I’m just as strong and if you come at me with holes in your plan, I’m going to take it from you.
“I’ve been in the top ten for a while now. I try to demonstrate my ability every time I step in here and I’m ready for those top five guys. I’m ready for my shot, my run’s started.”