Alexander Volkanovski wants lightweight title, welcomes Henry Cejudo’s return

Alexander Volkanovski has welcomed Henry Cejudo’s return to USADA’s test pool, but the Australian says he is instead focusing on a switch to lightweight and an instant crack at becoming a two-division UFC champion.

Fresh from his dominance of Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273, Volkanovski is already mapping out his plans for the rest of 2022 – something Cejudo is unlikely to be a part of, given athletes typically have to undergo six months of testing before they are qualified to compete.

Still, Volkanovski says he’s happy that Cejudo is finally making the trip, and not just talking the talk, as has been the case on the Australian’s impressive progress to become one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC.

“Well, at least he is [Cejudo] one step closer to committing to backing up what he says because he tweets every single time [after I fight]”Volkanovski told ESPN.” How many times have you heard him say things?

“Now I expect you at least [the media] to talk to me about it because he at least shows some kind of commitment [to making a return]. But that also does not mean that he has shown a commitment to my department. Everyone would just come back if they could win a title in the division they wanted. “

Cejudo directly called Volkanovski out on Twitter on Monday after manager Ali Abdelaziz had previously confirmed to ESPN that his client was set to re-enter the USADA test pool.

While open to a fight with Cejudo in the future, Volkanovski says the former two-division UFC champion had no right to just come in and expect a shot at the featherweight title when he had not competed for two years.

“Go out there and still earn that No. 1 spot,” Volkanovski said. “I think he’s in a much better position than anyone else outside the division to come in and get a title shot. If you go out there and fight a guy, I definitely think you get that title shot. , which is still very fair.I feel it’s still a great opportunity for him.

“But if he’s just expecting to get into a title shot right away, it’s pretty ridiculous. Whether he’s in the test pool to fight bantamweight or featherweight, I do not know. But if he wants to go into featherweight, then fight one. second and I reckon it gives you the No. 1 graduate spot that way. “

While Max Holloway – the American who was Volkanovski’s original opponent at UFC 273 – seems to be the Australian’s next opponent, the champion is apparently more motivated by another challenge.

It comes at lightweight, where he sees himself as immediately deserving of a title shot.

“I want that this year. It’s even something I’ll look at next time,” he told ESPN. “As I said while this division [featherweight] is arranging itself; I do mine, I do not want to stop with any divisions. But if this division is held up, it is because the candidates do not take the No. 1 spot. It has nothing to do with me.

“So if [they’re] If I want to do it, I want to be active, I move up, I work with my options because I do not hold anyone up, and I do mine. So if people do not want to do their part, let’s have fun, let’s have these money battles, let’s get these double champion status [fights], let’s do all that kind of thing while it’s happening. And I think I’m in a good position and a fair position to call for a double champion status. “

When asked if he was wrong in saying that Cejudo should work his way up to a title shot and then expect one right away in lightweight himself, Volkanovski pointed to the fact that he had been fighting uninterrupted since his first time in the UFC in 2016.

“I think I deserve a chance to be [lightweight] champ, “he said.” I’m talking about someone who’s retired, when we talk about Henry coming straight into a featherweight ward, I’m talking about someone who’s been retired for a few years; I do not even know how long?

“He’s never fought in the division for one and he’s retired … so that’s why I say I feel he should do something [first]. If he was still a bantamweight champion and had a few defenses, then okay, now he has some moves. Now he has something behind it that lies a lot of weight behind.

“While I am in a position where I have excluded the GOATS [Jose Aldo and Holloway]I go out there and absolutely dominate these guys, four title fights, three defenses, I do not keep the division up.

“Now I have not called for this until now; you did not see me demand it [after the win over Jung] and I do not demand it now, but you have not really seen me call for it until now, it just shows you what type of guy I am. And there is truth in what I say about Henry Cejudo; he must earn it.

“But I feel like I’m in the position where I’ve earned a shot at that lightweight Alexander Volkanovski wants lightweight title shot, welcomes Henry Cejudo’s return, so right now I want to call for it. That’s where we’re right now. “

Asked if he would be willing to fight the winner of Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje, the lightweight title showdown set for UFC 274 next month, later this year, Volkanovski said he would be ready to go.

“August sounds great and in Australia it sounds good too,” he told ESPN. “I know Dana [White] am not so sure [fighting in Australia] but we want these conversations and see what we can do. For I feel that there would not be [many] obstacles to having it in Australia.

“They still want to know what the country is about [COVID restrictions] so we’ll take those conversations and see what we can do, because I have to defend my blanket in Australia ASAP.

“I want my next match in Australia and I think we deserve it.”

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