Alexander Volkanovski has had words with UFC legend Max Holloway backstage after revealing what was said during their weigh-in stand off.
Alexander Volkanovski had a clear message to challenger Max Holloway backstage after the pair traded verbal blows once more ahead of their epic trilogy fight at UFC 276.
Volkanovski was the first fighter to take to the scales on Friday morning [local time] as the Australian made championship weight ahead.
Volkanovski tipped the scales at 144.5 pounds (65.5 kilograms), the exact same as Holloway, to lock in what will be an intriguing third instalment to the pair’s ongoing rivalry.
Watch UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier + Volkanovski vs Holloway LIVE on Main Event available on Kayo & Foxtel, Sunday 3rd July from 12pm AEST. ORDER NOW >
Holloway turned up the heat on Volkanovski at Thursday’s press conference, so this time around it was the Australian’s chance to get on the offensive early.
Speaking to foxsports.com.au backstage after the ceremonial weigh-in, Volkanovski revealed just what he said to Holloway — both before they stepped onto the scales and right after during an intense stare-off.
“He had stuff to say yesterday because he was trying to get in my head, trying to play his games but as I said, I’m leading the dance right now,” Volkanovski said.
“I’m leading the dance and he doesn’t like it so that’s what’s happening.”
Holloway then walked past Volkanovski backstage and the Australian did not miss the opportunity to leave his rival with a few parting words before Saturday’s fight.
“You don’t like it,” he said.
“Exactly right. I’m leading the dance and I’ll be leading the dance tomorrow. That’s exactly what is going to happen.”
“That is what he is trying to do, so today I was the one who told him today your mind games didn’t work,” Volkanovski added.
“It fired me up. It backfired on you. You’re trying to use the crowd to get in my head, you’re just giving me more energy and more fire in the belly to take me out. I told him that and he didn’t like it.”
The crowd continued to give it to Volkanovski but the 33-year-old warned Holloway that it would not be any advantage for him once the two entered the octagon.
“I said [it] to him before he walked out,” Volkanovski said.
“I said your mind games backfired. You soak up that crowd now because they ain’t helping you in the cage. [He] may as well take advantage of it now.
“Soak it up, it’s the last time they’ll be cheering for you anyway. I knew they were going to boo, it’s a home advantage for Max Holloway.
“Obviously he’s been blessed as I’ve been saying in many ways with getting the third chance and then being the home advantage twice but it doesn’t matter.
“I knew I was going into enemy territory but I’m just using that as fire, I thrive off it. I think I needed to heat things up.”
That he did, although Holloway said the “joke” was on Volkanovski, telling the crowd in T-Mobile Arena that he was “the heat”.
“I’ve had 10 rounds with this guy,” Holloway said.
“Like I said, this does not go past three.”
And that is only the co-main event, with Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier facing off for the UFC’s middleweight crown in the final fight of the night.
The two shared an intense 25-second stare-off before Cannonier eventually took a step back, telling Joe Rogan he is ready to prove himself against one of the sport’s best.
“It’s not the final challenge,” Cannonier said.
“It’s the next challenge. I’m the final challenge. I’m ready to show up, I’m ready to blow up, I’m ready to throw up my fist in victory and take my belt home. It’s going down.”
Adesanya, on the other hand, was unfazed by the talk, telling the crowd this will be “the biggest show of the year” before predicting he will make the fight “easy”.
“King Kong ain’t got s*** on me,” Adesanya added.
UFC 276 OFFICIAL WEIGH-IN RESULTS
Middleweight Title Bout: Israel Adesanya (183.5) vs Jared Cannonier (184.5)
Featherweight Title Bout: Alexander Volkanovski (144.5) vs Max Holloway (144.5)
Middleweight Bout: Sean Strickland (185.5) vs Alex Pereira (184.5)
Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler (171) vs Bryan Barberena (170.5)
Bantamweight Bout: Pedro Munhoz (135.5) vs Sean O’Malley (135)
Lightweight Bout: Brad Riddell (155.5) vs Jalin Turner (155.5)
Welterweight Bout: Jim Miller (170.5) vs Donald Cerrone (170.5)
Welterweight Bout: Ian Garry (171) vs Gabe Green (170)
Middleweight Bout: Brad Tavares (185.5) vs Dricus Du Plessis (185)
Middleweight Bout: Uriah Hall (186) vs Andre Muniz (185.5)
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Jessica Eye (126) vs Maycee Barber (126)
Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Jessica-Rose Clark (135.5) vs Julija Stoliarenko (136)
Originally published as ‘It backfired’: Aussie UFC champ Volkanovski’s backstage barb