Holding back tears an emotional Alex Volkanovski touched on his mental struggles of not fighting in the lead-up to his brutal loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
Volkanovski's shot at redemption lasted less than a round in Abu Dhabi on Sunday before he was felled by a brutal head kick just 3.06 seconds into the first round.
Post-fight the UFC featherweight champion conceded it may have been a "silly decision" to fight Makhachev on 11-days notice but not being active and being in camp and preparing for a fight was "doing his head in".
"It's really hard for athletes. I didn't think I'd struggle with it but for some reason when I wasn't fighting or in camp, it was doing my head in," Volkanovski said.
"I needed a fight and this opportunity came up.
"I'll be honest, I wasn't training as much as I should have but I thought I had to do it, I had to take it.
"I was telling myself it was meant to be. I was struggling a little bit not fighting. It was doing my head in.
"I don't know how, I've got a beautiful family but I don't know.....you just need to keep busy. I just ask the UFC to keep me busy because I need to keep busy and be in camp otherwise I'm going to do my head in."
I don't know how, I've got a beautiful family but I don't know.....you just need to keep busy. I just ask the UFC to keep me busy because I need to keep busy and be in camp otherwise I'm going to do my head in.- Alex Volkanovski
Responding to a question from a journalist the 35-year-old said he understood a bit better why Tyson Fury said he went to dark places and started feeling down when he wasn't fighting.
"It's weird, I never got it but the more and more I learn about it, the more and more I understand, it was different," Volkanovski said.
"It was a decision I chose. I talked about us having a smile on our face, me and my wife....obviously my wife could see that it does get hard.
"I don't know why but I think there was just so much going on, with the surgery and then the baby.......I just needed to get in camp.
"Then this fight came up and I thought it was meant to be, let's do it.
"I thought that is what it was but maybe it was just a silly decision under those circumstances.
"They are decisions you don't want to make against someone like Islam. I'm not taking anything away from him.
"I know this feeling is common with athletes but it was something again I never understood.
"I've never dealt with anything like that to be honest.
"I talk about being professional and always turning up. If there ever was a time that I wasn't it was literally now with this decision.
"Maybe this happened to give me a kick up the arse for being silly, maybe it won't happen again, maybe that's what it was, maybe this will kick me back into gear. Get back in there, get back to featherweight division and kick arse there."
The UFC has granted Volkanovski his wish to keep busy by lining up a featherweight battle with Ilia Topuria next January.
"I need to be busy," he said.
"My main purpose now is family and fighting. When I'm not fighting I feel like I'm not ticking all the boxes. I need to tick all the boxes. I don't like wasting time."
Volkanovski was loathe though to make excuses in the aftermath of a bout in which he gave away every possible pre-fight advantage to the much-vaunted lightweight champion Makhachev.
"It's never really happened before.......maybe it was just with the newborn and the surgery......but that ain't the excuse," he said.
"I thought I could come in and put one on him. I thought if anyone that could do this on 11-days notice, I do believe I am that guy, but maybe I'll choose a different opponent or better opponent to be doing that do.
"Full credit to Islam. At the end of the day he caught me. I wanted to catch him and I didn't
"I thrive in fighting. It hurts me now, it could have been an historical event or I could have literally shocked the world ......but that's the game, he caught me good.
"He went straight over nice and high, even though I was shelling, maybe it was something they were planning so credit to their team.
"Up until then I felt strong in there. I wanted to obviously put some hands on him and whatnot. I wanted to pull the trigger but it just felt a little weird in there.
"I just felt a little bit hesitant which I didn't expect to. It was like I was waiting for something.
"I don't want to sit here and obviously make excuses......but I'm a big believer in preparation and stuff like that. But I back myself so that's the decision I made.
"I could have made better decisions, he is not somebody you should be taking a short notice with, but again I needed [the fight] as well.
"Fighting keeps me healthy."
The Windang warrior though conceded his second loss to Makhachev means his days fighting in the lightweight division were probably over for good.
"Obviously it's gonna be hard to get a fight with Islam ever again," Volkanovski said.
"That's what I mean when I was saying there's still a lot to lose for me, a lot to lose, but there was also a lot to gain.
"But now it's about defending my featherweight title. I've got direction, that will put a smile on my face."
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