UFC 2022: Alex Volkanovski open to fight with Conor McGregor at lightweight, next fight, opponent, Charles Oliveira

Alex Volkanovski says a fight with Conor McGregor could well be on the cards, declaring it would be the perfect way to wrap up “unfinished business” in UFC’s featherweight division.

Last month the Australian was crowned UFC’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter across all divisions in recognition of a stellar past 12 months, including epic wins over Brian Ortega and rival Max Holloway for a third time.

Volkanovski, the featherweight champion, now has his sights set on the heavier lightweight class and becoming a double champion, which would put him in rarefied air.

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His first choice of opponent is Brazilian former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, who takes on Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 next month.

In an ideal world, Volkanovski would take on the winner of that fight for the lightweight belt as soon as possible.

“I’ve got my eye on that lightweight division,” he said, speaking to news.com.au as a new Uber Eats ambassador.

“Obviously you’ve got Islam (Makhachev) and you’ve got Charles Oliveira. Out of them two, the bigger fight would definitely be Charles.

“I’m hearing whispers that there’s going to be a Rio card. I think Charles wants in on that. So ideally Charles wins, he wants to defend his belt in January and that suits me very well.

“If Islam wins, he ain’t fighting for a long time. It’d probably be mid-next year by the time he defends the belt.

“Strategically, Charles would be better. If I could fight either one of them in January, I wouldn’t really care because I feel like I match up well with both of them to be honest with you.

“Islam’s a very good wrestler, very good grappler but I am very, very hard to hold down and we know how my striking is.

“That’d be very interesting because if he was to take out Charles, he would blow up because everyone would think he’s unstoppable so it’d be good to have people doubting me again and prove them wrong.

“Either fight would be incredible. If Charles wins, it’s the same for him. His hype would go through the roof and people would want to see that fight, that’s all that counts to me. I want fights that people want to see and challenges too, right?

“I want challenges and that’s why I want to fight these contenders and the top dogs in the lightweight division because it’s still a challenge as well. I’m looking forward to it.”

A challenge Volkanovski would take on is a fight against McGregor, a former double champion and the only former featherweight champ Volkanovski hasn’t defeated yet.

Asked if he’d be open to fighting the Irishman, Volkanovski said: “Oh yeah! You never know. “Obviously it wouldn’t be next. Say I do go and get that lightweight belt, I think that would be something he’d be very interested in.

“And it still feels like I’ve got unfinished business in the featherweight division because I’ve beat every other champ except for Conor. Obviously I could never fight him at featherweight but lightweight, if I had that belt, I think he would love an opportunity to try and fight for the title.

“It could happen but at the same time I’ve got my eye on Islam and Charles Oliveira. If that ever happened that’s further down the track.”

Volkanovski is 33 but he is as hungry for victories as ever and has plenty of options on the table.

He has resumed full training after breaking his hand during the Holloway fight and on top of potential fights with Oliveira and McGregor, he’s licking his lips at the chance to defend his featherweight belt early next year on Australian soil.

“I’m keen to get back in there (the octagon),” Volkanovksi said.

“I’m loving training and staying fit. I’m feeling stronger than ever. I want to fight this year, I really do.

“They’re looking at coming down (to Australia) early next year, I don’t think that’s any secret.

“I don’t know if a date’s locked yet. They’re definitely looking at coming early next year. We’ll see what happens. Nothing’s locked in.

“Everyone in Australia wants to see a card here, I want to see a card here and I want to defend my belt fighting in front of a home crowd and give the Australian fans what they deserve. We’ll make that happen, hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Volkanovski is recovering from a broken hand he suffered during the Holloway fight and as a new Uber Eats ambassador, he wants his fans to know the best UFC fighter in the world can still enjoy a balanced diet.

“When you’re burning the calories that I’m doing, you can still make food fun, you can still make your diet fun,” he said.

“Every time I’m out and about and eat a burger, people are like, ‘Can you eat that?’. I’m like, ‘Yeah, I definitely can’. I’m burning like 3000-plus calories a day so I can definitely eat it.”

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