UFC 298: Ilia Topuria Slams ‘Old’ Alexander Volkanovski: ‘It’s Time to Retire’

Spanish phenom Ilia Topuria isn’t hiding his contempt for UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. “El Matador” puts his undefeated record on the line against “The Great” in the headliner of UFC 298 on February 16, and the pair haven’t been friendly in the buildup.

Topuria is already claiming to be the featherweight champion in his Twitter bio and is overlooking his Aussie opponent toward future matchups with Sean O’Malley and Conor McGregor.

This prompted Volkanovski to call out his “cocky” opponent for being too confident:

“He thinks he’s the man, let’s see if he is,” Volkanovski said in his Jan 5 YouTube video.”… I see his confidence, he’s a cocky, confident young dude… I am the king of this division [featherweight] and he ain’t taking nothing from me. I’m coming for that zero.”

In response, Topuria left a scathing rant for Volkanovski, telling him “It’s time to retire”:

“If you think someone can imitate me, that means that your last fight has left you with lasting effects! I will knock you out in the first round. You’re old, it’s time to retire. It is time to move on and make way for the new era of Topuria.”

Topuria via X, Jan 6
Volkanovski and Topuria face off.
Volkanovski and Topuria face off.

The two featherweight sluggers will be able to settle their differences in their Anaheim main event on February 16. However, one other factor comes into play where Volkanovski is concerned.

Volkanovski is Fighting Age as Well as Topuria

Volkanovski is 35 years of age. Historically, fighters this age have a 0% title fight win rate in weight divisions below welterweight. “The Great” has already fallen victim to this once when he lost the rematch to Islam Makhachev at UFC 294.

As of January 2024, fighters aged 35+, in title fights, have a combined record of 2 wins, and 22 losses. Those two wins were owned by Tyron Woodley when he defended his title against Demian Maia and Darren Till. Other than that, no fighter at that age has won a title fight.

It’s quite a conundrum for Volkanovski since the numbers don’t lie. “The Great” has been one of the most dominant fighters in UFC featherweight history, and remains undefeated in that weight division (in the UFC). With two demolition jobs of fellow featherweight GOAT Max Holloway and an awe-inspiring first performance against Islam Makhachev, it feels like Volkanovski could put an end to this ‘UFC Veteran Curse’.

However, all greatness must come to an end, and MMA as a sport is as unforgiving as it has ever been.

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Mathew Riddle MMA

Mathew Riddle

Mathew is a combat sports journalist & designer. His past bylines include Sports Illustrated, Heavy on UFC, Sport Skeeda, MMA UK, and MMA Sucka.