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UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria – Who Wins?

As UFC 298 approaches, Volkanovski embraces the doubt. He sees it as part of his journey. He’s ready to humble Topuria.

UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria - Who Wins?
UFC 298: Volkanovski vs. Topuria - Who Wins?

In 2019, Alexander Volkanovski laughed off a superstition about not getting a haircut during fight week. He was in Rio de Janeiro for UFC 237 against Jose Aldo, filmed by “Embedded.” Despite warnings from producers about a haircut curse, he went for it and still dominated Aldo.

Volkanovski’s head coach, Joe Lopez, recalls how they also ignored superstitions about fist-bumping Bruce Buffer. “We’re not into myths,” Lopez says. They focus on their own strategy.

Now, Volkanovski (26-3) faces another challenge at UFC 298 in Anaheim, California, against Ilia Topuria. At 35, he confronts the myth of age being a barrier. Historically, male fighters aged 35+ have a 2-23 record in UFC title fights below 170 pounds. Volkanovski, however, doesn’t buy into this stat.

Last year, he lost to Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title, a fight above his usual class and taken on short notice. But this weekend’s fight is different – it’s in his regular 145-pound class, where he’s undefeated.

Volkanovski dismisses the age concern. “I’m not your normal human being,” he told ESPN. Last year, some said he was the best. Now, suddenly he’s old?

Frankie Edgar, former lightweight champ, faced a similar age narrative. He fought Max Holloway at 37 and lost, but never saw age as a downside. Now retired, Edgar admits age does matter in MMA.

Tyron Woodley is the only one who defied the age stat, winning two title defenses past 35. According to his coach, Din Thomas, Woodley’s success wasn’t about unique training; it was about motivation and competing in a heavier weight class.

For Volkanovski, this title fight is about proving myths wrong. “I’ve proven I’m not your normal human being,” he says. His coach Lopez notes Volkanovski’s fitness levels haven’t dropped, and he still excels in weekly tests.

As UFC 298 approaches, Volkanovski embraces the doubt. He sees it as part of his journey. He’s ready to humble Topuria and teach him what it takes to be a champion. “You’ve got to earn that,” Volkanovski concludes.

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