Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) defends his featherweight title against Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the UFC 298 main event Feb. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Joe Lopez, Volkanovski’s longtime head coach, warns Topuria that things won’t go well for him if the fight hits the mat.
“Let’s see how Ilia feels when Volk is in front of him – and even worse, when Volk puts his hands on him,” Lopez said in an interview with It’s Time For Sports. “If Alex grabs him, he’s going to feel the strength and why back in the day they used to call him ‘The Hulk.’ He’s got this incredible strength.”
Lopez is aware of the dangers Topuria brings with his heavy hands, but is confident Volkanovski can outlast him. Volkanovski held his own in his first fight against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284. Although he lost a close decision, Volkanovski was able to put the exhausted champion in unfamiliar deep waters.
Lopez thinks Volkanovski can do the same to Topuria.
“(Things change) once he puts his hands on you and you feel his weight and his strength, and just his scrambling abilities,” Lopez said on Volkanovski. “The thing is, some people can do it for a minute or two or three, but he can honestly do it for 25 minutes straight and not get – I mean he’ll get tired obviously, but he just grinds people. He’s different.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.