Alexander Volkanovski: I’m going to give Ilia Topuria ‘a good humbling’ at UFC 298

Alexander Volkanovski is ready to teach Ilia Topuria a lesson when they meet in the main event of UFC 298 for the featherweight title.

The event takes place Feb. 17 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and will serve as Volkanovski’s first fight since getting brutally knocked out by lightweight champ Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 in October. “The Great” sees the confidence in the challenger, and while he appreciates that from a promotional standpoint, Volkanovski doesn’t understand where that is all coming from.

“He thinks he’s the best, but he’s going to be shown there are levels to this. As I’ve been saying in interviews, you’ve got to earn your stripes and he hasn’t been there. He thinks he’s the man, he thinks he’s at the top of the division already, and he hasn’t even faced anyone right up there.

“If he ever gets to that point where he’s going to be a champion, or a great champion, he needs for me to do what I plan on doing to him. I’m going to give him a good humbling. Maybe he can bounce back after that, learn a thing or two, and go from there. But he’s going to be shown a good lesson, a good humbling, and I can’t wait to do that.”

Topuria is 14-0, and has been on a fantastic run since joining the UFC — winning all six of his octagon appearances. In his most recent outing, Topuria dominated Josh Emmett in his first promotional headliner at UFC Jacksonville this past June to earn a title shot.

While Volkanovski understands the hype around Topuria, the long reigning featherweight champion feels like it might be a bit overinflated.

“It’s hard to say,” Volkanovski said. “I’m not trying to throw a heap of shade, but for a lot of fighters, we earned our respect by fighting tough opponents. He hasn’t had the opportunity to do that, but he hasn’t shown he’s as good as he says he is.

“But we get to see come fight time. I’m preparing for a man who is as good as he says he is. He thinks he’s the man, I’m prepatring for that, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. But I’m going to turn up and I’m going to be waiting, but if you’re not up to that standard, it’s going to be a good humbling experience for him. He needs it, anyway, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the guy. He’s hyping the fight up, I love it. All I have to do is go out there and teach him a lesson, right?”