Alex Volkanovski wasn’t concerned with legacy early in his career. However, a 25 fight win streak and a shiny UFC belt can change a man’s perspective. And when considering all he’s accomplished, the Australian has earned every right to think about his footprint on the sport and his status in the MMA history books. Reflecting on his success, it’s clear his priorities have shifted in recent years.
“Just being champ isn’t enough,” he said. ” Yeah, I’m successful. I’m lucky to be in the position I am now, but it doesn’t end here. I’m still fighting for something. Something more. I want more than that. I want that GOAT status. GOAT of the featherweight division. Double champ status. Full stop GOAT of the UFC. It was something that I didn’t really care for before, where now I’m really coming into my own and I really want that type of legacy”.
At this point in his career, it would be silly to doubt the Shellharbour native’s aspirations. His resume speaks for itself, and at 33-years-of-age, he’s still operating at this peak of his powers. Today, the undisputed featherweight champion is not only the best in his division but widely considered one of the best in the entire organisation, putting himself in a realm few currently reside. A couple more scalps and there’s no possible way you can have the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) conversation without mentioning his name. And as someone who considers himself as part of that discussion, it’s hard not to measure yourself against other greats.
As an athlete who has the potential to reach the pinnacle of his sport, we thought it would be interesting to ask Volkanoski who he ranks as his top three fighters of all time, gaining a glimpse into how he measures greatness. A layered question, Volkanovski says the word greatest “really depends on how you look at it. You look at legacy, fighting, and then you can look at accomplishments. But then at the end of the day, there’s a lot that comes into it.”
When you look at a career in totality, Volkanovski acknowledges the former Irish 145-pound champion must be mentioned: “McGregor’s going to obviously have to be in that conversation because you talk about being successful. Does he do some silly things sometimes? Is he a role model? But at the same time, look at the legacy he’s left behind. Look at the money he’s made. He’s successful. He doesn’t even have to fight anymore. Even after this career, we fighters need to have goals, and he showed that. He’s raised the bar when you look at it that way.”
“Then you’ve got guys like GSP who just did everything right. Was true to himself and then was able to still be the man. He’s still got a great legacy and he didn’t have to be someone he wasn’t. That’s something that I look up to and I think is pretty incredible. Has the game changed? Yeah, it has. Have things changed? Yeah, it has. But I mean, for him to do what he’s done and be in the position he is right now, he’s pretty incredible, and be the person he was the whole time I admire that.”
Volkanovski says he has followed part of the blueprint laid out by teammate and fellow UFC champion Israel Adesanya: ” It’s incredible for him to have such a vision and I’m just starting to get this vision. These are the conversations I’m starting to have now. And even before Izzy was in the UFC, the vision he had of talking about legacy and capturing moments. It took me two years of being the champ to be like, “oh, you know what? Let’s raise the bar.” Because before I was just me. I’m just a humble dude.”
He continues: “So to see guys like Izzy, doing what he’s doing. Even right now being true to himself and being still the loyal man he is. Yeah, A lot of people don’t get to see that, but he’s one loyal dude. Family man. And at the same time, he’s got a lot of eyes on him and he’s doing his thing. And whether you like it or not, he’s going to do it. And the eyes are on him, so you’ve got to respect that.”
Not only are Alex and Israel training partners, but they are both long time ambassadors for Australia-based fightwear brand Engage. Starring in the company’s new campaign We Are All Fighters, the video explores what it means to be a fighter in the modern world, showcasing the sacrifice required to achieve goals while promoting the importance of mental and physical well-being. After our discussion with the 145-pound champ, it’s clear what he’s now fighting for.
You can learn more about the We Are All Fighters campaign and the latest fightwear offering on Engage’s website to shop all the fightwear offerings. Check out the promo video below.