They've gone toe-to-toe for just short of an hour and UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski is ready to close the book on his rivalry with Max Holloway - for now.
Wollongong's fighting pride made the first defence of his UFC featherweight title with a razor-thin split decision win over Holloway after another five-round war on Sunday.
Volkanovski said in the lead-up that he always expected he'd need to beat the former long-reigning king twice to truly usher in his championship era, but some are already clamouring for a third match-up given the closeness of Sunday's bout.
With pair having already vanquished most contenders in the division there is no clear next-up at featherweight, but Volkanovski says he's now looking past Holloway.
"To beat Max back to back like that, it's saying something and I'm happy to finish that chapter and move on to the next," Volkanovski said.
"I don't know where he goes from here, whether he wants to move up [a division] I don't know, but I believe I've finished that chapter. I don't think the first fight was close, this one was probably closer than the first fight, but I got the job done.
" I'm the best featherweight in the world right now, but I want to be GOAT. You need title defences to do that, you need No. 1 contenders to do that. That top five they're about to fight each other and I've got my eye on every single one of them.
"All of them are in the same boat, one big win and everyone's screaming their name and I'll say 'let's do it'. Whoever's looks the best, whoever's the toughest fight for me, bring it on.
"I feel I can do a lot better with a full camp later this year, and I'm going to keep proving I'm the best featherweight of all time."
Volkanovski hit the canvas twice in the opening two rounds that he concedes went to the Hawaiian, but finished stronger with multiple takedowns in the championship rounds.
It was enough for two of three judges to award the decision three rounds to two to the Wollongong native, with the other scoring it in identical fashion for Holloway.
Th outlying judge had his allies - including UFC president Dana White - but Volkanovski feels he showed championship mettle to claim the last three rounds.
"It was a tough one, we expected him to make adjustments, he made good adjustments in those first two rounds and we knew we had to pick it up," he said.
"Those first two rounds, I'm a realist, I'll tell you I believe he started off well but I came back from the third onwards. That third round was close but we were confident we took that third round and obviously we took the fourth and fifth.
"I trust my corner, they're realists, they're going to tell me how it is. I was pretty confident that I did enough in that third round and the judges thought so as well.
"This sport isn't easy, sometimes you're going to be put in those positions and only certain champions can dig deep like I did. He made good adjustments between the two fights, I made adjustments between rounds.
"It shows you the type of fighter I am. It was a tight fight but when the scorecards were getting announced we were pretty sure we'd got the last three. This is a crazy sport, to come back from being down and waking yourself up shows what type of a champion you are."
One person who certainly felt Holloway won was 'retired' former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, who's been chasing a fight with Volkanovski and what would be an unprecedented third division title.
Cejudo left no doubt as to his feeling afterwards, calling the Windang fighter and "overgrown midget" and a "thief" on Twitter. Told of the comments, Volkanovski said it would take a big pay-day for him to deviate from his plans of featherweight dominance.
"Let's be realistic, he's done great things in his divisions, I've got nothing but respect for the man, but me fighting him ain't helping my legacy," Volkanvski said.
"I've got No 1. contenders and if I want to be the GOAT I've got to take out No. 1 contenders. If someone's going to cut in front of the line like Cejudo, pay me the money to make it happen.
"You've got to make it worthwhile for me because I want that GOAT status and taking Henry Cejudo doesn't help that. I'd be expected to win that and it's a different league up here with these big boys.
"I'll show that. If that fight was to happen I'd show this ain't his division."
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