City Kickboxing teammates Isreal Adesanya (22-1, 11-1 UFC), Alexander Volkanovski (24-1, 11-0 UFC) and Kai Kara-France (24-9 1NC, 7-2 UFC) have sounded off in an open press conference in Sydney, answering questions from media and fans alike about their upcoming title fights.
The UFC’s next pay-per-view event, UFC 276, will be held at the T-mobile arena on July 3 (Australian time) and sees Adesanya and Volkanovski defend their World titles against Jared Cannonier (15-5, 8-5 UFC) and Max Holloway (23-6, 19-6 UFC) respectively.
This will be the third time that Featherweights Volkanovski and Holloway will meet, with the Aussie picking up close decision wins on the previous two occasions.
Although he is not bothered by critics who believe he was lucky to beat his Hawaiian opponent, Volkanovski is determined to make a statement with a decisive victory.
“I don’t think I have to do anything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try right,” Volkanovski said.
“I’m gonna go out there and I plan on putting a beating on him this time. I really do want to set a statement. Getting a finish and really getting that dominant win will definitely help that legacy that I want as well.
“This opportunity is here and I’m going to take it, it’s going to be ‘and still’ and I’m going to put on a good performance.”
Although it might be satisfying to silence doubters, it is not Volkanovski’s main focus. For “The Great,” the third Holloway fight is definitely about legacy, as he looks to cement himself as the greatest Featherweight of all time.
“I don’t care about (criticism) now, that’s not why I took this fight,” Volkanovski said.
“I did originally want this trilogy to shut people up, but right now it’s not about that.
“This fight is going to be a legacy fight for me. There’s going to be haters no matter what you do, even after this one if I go on and do what I plan on doing, there’s still going to be haters. There’s still going to be people saying stuff but we can’t worry about that.
“I have used that all as fuel to get me where I am, but right now it’s about me and putting me in a good position after this one.
“(Holloway) is a great fighter, I’ll give him a lot of credit. He’s that number one contender, he’s done great things in this division. It’s the reason why he gets this trilogy. Really taking him out again will really put my name out there.”
Volkanovski stated that moving up to Lightweight to fight Lineal champion Charles Oliviera is a major possibility if he emerges victorious.
“I’m going to do what I plan on doing and (a shot at the Lightweight Championship) is what I’m going to call for,” Volkanovski stated.
“When I look at Oliviera, dangerous fighter, a lot of people love watching him fight they’re exciting fights, but obviously he’s showed that he can be beat. He’s showed that in his last few even though they were exciting.
“The thing is with me, I’m not going to give him those opportunities, If I land big on someone, they aren’t going to get the opportunity to land big on me, that’s not how we role. I’m gonna land big and not get hit, that’s the whole point.”
“I plan on going up. He is dangerous, I think it’s going to be a great fight, it’s going to be a massive fight, but I definitely believe I can go up and get that double champ status”.
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After back to back rematches with Marvin Vettori (18-5-1, 8-3-1 UFC) and Robert Whittaker (24-6, 11-4 UFC), UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya finally has some “new blood,” when he takes on Jared Cannonier.
Given the Australian audience in attendance Adesanya was asked about the possibilities of a third match up with ‘The Reaper.’
“[Whittaker] is a great fighter, I’ll give it to him,” Adesanya stated.
“But I know how that book ends, I’ve read that book twice already. First time was a quick read, second time (took) a little bit longer.
“He’s probably going to be at the top for a while, but if we fight again we know how that book ends. That’s why I’m excited about this next fight, some new blood. Someone I’ve never fought before.
“If he wants to he should go up to 205, see what that’s about and try that for a little bit. I don’t like reading that same book over and over again.”
In terms of Cannonier, Adesanya was asked if he felt if this was his toughest fight to date. Although he didn’t think so, he had a lot of respect for his upcoming foe.
“I don’t believe (Cannonier is my toughest opponent to date), but it doesn’t mean I underestimate him,” Adesanya stated.
“Everyones a tough challenger. He’s a guy that packs a lot, Jared carries that strength around so I can’t overlook him, but I don’t think this will be the toughest challenger. I think will make it look easy come July 3rd.”
Earlier in the undercard, Middleweight stand outs Sean Strickland (25-3, 12-3 UFC) and Alex Pereira (5-1, 2-0 UFC) will fight to most likely determine “The Last Stylebender’s” next opponent.
With Strickland being ranked fourth in the division and PereIra holding two kickboxing victories over the current champion, both would make for intriguing match ups.
When asked, Adesanya stated that he is looking forward to either one, but had a lot more to say about the former two-weight Glory Kickboxing Champion.
“I don’t like the (too quick) narrative for Perriera but Jiri (Procházka) just fought for the belt and won the belt on his third fight for the UFC. I think Anderson (Silva) did it in his second fight, so that’s fine, he’s new to MMA. I’ve been in this game for a long time.”
“This Tik Tok generation has 15 second memories. All they see is a knockout, but they didn’t watch the first fight or the second fight before the finish.”
“So this isn’t kickboxing this is mixed martial arts and these aren’t big pillow gloves. These are four ounce deadly weapons and I can’t wait to drive that through his face after I go through Jared Cannonier.”
At UFC 277, Kiwi Kai Kara-France will serve as the co-main event when he rematches Mexico’s Brandon Moreno (19-6-2, 7-3-2 UFC) for the interim UFC Flyweight Championship.
Moreno and Kara-France fought each other back in December of 2019 where the Mexican picking up the victory. With this in mind, Kara-France is coming into this fight as the underdog yet again and he looks forward to defying the odds once more.
“This kids got a lot of fight in him and that’s what Moreno will be seeing,” he said.
“It’s a dog fight and I’ve just got to make it that and I don’t care if you doubt me. It just fuels me even more.
“I was born to do this. I can’t wait to get in there and shut up all the doubters and spoil the party, so Moreno, ‘Don’t Blink’ baby”.
Kara-France has had a tough road to get his first title shot. Despite wins over former Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (12-5, 7-5 UFC) and third ranked Askar Askarov (14-1-1, 4-1 UFC), the man known as ‘Don’t Blink’ has had troubles in training for his fights, as his gym was shut due to New Zeleand COVID Restrictions.
“Over the last few years our gym was shut for about four months” Kara-France stated.
“Preparing for that Cody Garbrandt fight over new years, I was training out of my garage. I was training at a park, we just couldn’t go to the gym. It was getting watched over by everyone.
“So we had to just kinda get creative (and) meet up with teammates and just train and do our jobs.
“That’s one of our strengths, we just turn up, no excuses, put in the preparation, put in the work and when it’s fight week it means everything to us. When we make that walk out, when we do the media days (and) weigh ins our opponents feel the fire in us.
“I feel like it’s been harder to be from this side of the world to compete in the UFC than (an) American based fighter.”
Now that everything is back to normal, Kai Kara-France can’t wait to claim his first World title.
“With (the gym situation) being back to normal, we’re at an even playing field,” he said.
“Look what we were able to do without that, we’re about to fight for a World title now. I can’t wait to get in there and see the boys go to work.
“It’s inspiring being in the same gym and rubbing shoulders with world champions. It definitely rubs off on you so I’m going to be a World champion.
It is safe to say that July is going to be a massive month for Australian MMA, as the City Kickboxing pupils fight for gold on the next two UFC pay-per-views, as two fight for legacy and one fights for glory.
With another Australian card in the works, there has never been a better time to be an MMA fan from ‘Down Under.’
The Sydney UFC Press Conference can be viewed on YouTube (here)