Alexander Volkanovski impressed with new version of Brian Ortega, but confident he can break him

Despite Brian Ortega’s recent improvements, Alexander Volkanovski thinks his pressure will be too much.

UFC featherweight champion Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will meet Ortega in the first quarter of 2021, but a date is yet to be official. Dana White teased a February matchup, but Volkanovski would rather see the fight pushed back a little more so he’s able to get enough time to conduct his camp at City Kickboxing in New Zealand.

Ortega (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) is coming off arguably his best performance yet in which he shut out Chan Sung Jung and outstruck him over the course of five rounds in the UFC on ESPN+ 38 headliner.

The win repositioned Ortega into title contention and caught the champion’s attention.

“It took me by surprise because I didn’t expect him to fight – I wouldn’t say fight smart, but his shot selection, there was a couple of things that I just didn’t expect,” Volkanovski told SCMP MMA. “I thought he would just be looking for the finish, that’s what he does.

“But there, he showed patience, shot selection, fakes – a lot of things that we work on. Whether he took some notes out of our book, I don’t know, but he’s obviously stepped it up and he looked good. He really did look good.”

However, despite Volkanovski being impressed with Ortega’s advancements, he remains unfazed. He sees a similar game plan that Max Holloway was able to implement when he battered Ortega in 2018 as a blueprint that will work.

“I believe I’m going to break him,” Volkanovski said. “The way that Max did, I believe that’s somewhere that I can go with – especially with my pressuring style. This is a fun fight for me because I believe I get to put the pressure on. I get to be in his face, which is fun. People want to see that.

“There’s levels to this, and I believe my pressure, when I use it, my pressure’s on a whole other level that not many people in the world have ever felt.”

Volkanovski is coming off back-to-back wins over Holloway and has said on numerous occasions that he’s excited to take on a new challenge in the featherweight division. He acknowledges Ortega is dangerous everywhere, but isn’t afraid to dabble on the ground with the jiu-jitsu ace if necessary.

“It’s exciting for me, but at the same time, I really do believe I’m just at a whole other level,” Volkanovski said. “I’m so well-rounded. I can take the fight wherever it is. I’m the guy that never quits. With me, it’s so easy to say I’m well-rounded, but it goes so much deeper than that. There are so many little things that I just have down to a tee, and I work so hard to make sure that I am such a complete fighter that if someone gives me trouble somewhere, I can always take it somewhere else.

“Even if I have to go to the ground with Ortega … I don’t need to worry about him taking me down. We’ll see. Obviously, I can’t give too much away, but if I want to take someone down, I can. Am I going to have a BJJ match with him in the middle of a UFC fight? No. But again, I’m a very smart fighter. There’s different rules to just on the BJJ mats. We can punch you on the face. We’ve got a cage. There’s a lot of obstacles in an MMA cage, especially when you can use your hands and elbows and whatnot.”

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