BOISE, Idaho Halfway around the world in Auckland, New Zealand, the team at City Kickboxing has found something.It started with Shane Young at UFC Fight Night 132. Then it was Israel Adesanyaat The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale and Dan Hooker at UFC 226.Alexander Volkanovski (17-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) counts the UFC upstarts as brothers in arms, and he plans to cap a 4-0 run for his team on Saturday with a win over Darren Elkins (24-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 133.
“We’re a big threat to the world right now,” Volkanovski told MMAjunkie in advance of his FS1-televised preliminary-card meeting at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. “We’re not just here to fill in spots. We’re now big threats to all these divisions all through the roster.
“We’re there now. Tune in. I’m about to put the icing on the cake.”It’s Volkanovski’s first appearance stateside after quartet of wins on or near home soil. His team lobbied hard to take a step up in competition and agreed to a longer layoff for the chance to face Elkins, who’s perhaps the division’s most durable competitor. Elkins also is the No. 6 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings.
Volkanovski’s excitement is mixed with gratitude as he readies himself for Saturday night.
“Elkins didn’t have to take this fight,” he said. “He should definitely be ranked higher. You’ve got Mirsad Bektic ranked higher, and he beat him; he’s on a six-fight win streak. It’s crazy how it works.
“But I’ve got a lot of respect for him for taking the fight. I think it was a very bad decision on his half. He’s very good at breaking people, but I don’t break.”
Competitively, Volkanovski views himself as a better version of Elkins, able to take and give punishment in deep waters and still come out successful. Yet he’s confident he won’t see a third round against the hard-nosed Elkins.
“I reckon I’ll be putting him to sleep early,” he said. “That’ll open some eyes. Darren Elkins going to sleep? Ooh. I don’t think anyone’s done that.”
Volkanovski’s teammates Adesanya and Hooker have captured the lion’s share of attention over the past few weeks. Volkanovski’s goal is to share some of that spotlight and let the world know there’s another star in New Zealand. With five straight wins, he’ll be on his way.
“Obviously, people that know the game know I’m a big threat in this division,” he said. “But I want the casuals to start jumping on board. I believe this is the fight where it’s all going to happen.”For more on UFC Fight Night 133, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.