ABU DHABI – Alexander Volkanovski has a singular mission in his first protection of the UFC featherweight title: end Max Holloway.

“I’ve already beat him. I do know I can try this,” Volkanovski informed MMA Junkie on Monday. “Now I need to end him. Lots of people assume he can’t be completed. I really do imagine I can.”

Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-Zero UFC) and Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) first confronted off final December, and it was the Australian challenger who took house a unanimous choice to dethrone “Blessed.” Now they’ll run it again at UFC 251, which takes place Saturday at Yas Island. The principle card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Regardless of getting into because the champion this time round, Volkanovski mentioned he doesn’t actually really feel any completely different – aside from, after all, the modifications which have been made when it comes to operations in Abu Dhabi as a response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

“I swear I really feel the identical each time, irrespective of how massive the struggle is,” Volkanovski mentioned. “I’ve acquired a job to do, and that’s it. That’s how I have a look at it.

“These are clearly loopy occasions. All the things does really feel slightly bit completely different – ‘Combat Island,’ all of the protocols that we’ve acquired to undergo. On the similar time, I simply play no matter is in entrance of me. I’m nonetheless getting my classes in, nonetheless doing what must be finished.”

It’s that consistency in method that Volkanovski, 31, believes is vital to his profitable run to the title – a stretch that features an unbelievable 18-fight successful streak and an ideal 8-Zero mark within the UFC.

“You at all times know you’re among the best fighters on the earth, you at all times inform your self that, however to go on the market and show it’s one other factor. In order that’s clearly an unreal feeling,” Volkanovski mentioned. “You’ve acquired a belt that you would be able to now say you’re the greatest featherweight on the earth. Clearly it does change slightly bit. However what was actually good for me to know is that the belt didn’t change me in any respect, one bit. I’m precisely who I used to be earlier than I acquired that belt. I’m precisely who I used to be 10 years in the past.

“I’m going again house. I’m nonetheless daddy. I’ve nonetheless acquired three women bossing me round, telling me what to do, you recognize what I imply? It’s good to know, yeah, you’re the greatest fighter on the earth, however on the finish of the day, you’re you. Nothing modifications. It hasn’t gone to your head, and I’m happy with that. Some individuals will faux to be one thing they’re not, however that’s me. I’m happy with who I’m, and I don’t want a belt to alter me.”

Now Volkanovski will look to solidify his slot as champion by incomes a second win over Holloway, who many imagine is the best of all time within the featherweight division. The circumstances are slightly bit difficult as of late, with the coronavirus forcing excessive measures in preparation for the occasion, in addition to struggle week itself. However Volkanovski mentioned he didn’t hesitate to just accept a bout within the spot the UFC is asking, “Combat Island.”

“I needed to struggle right here, to be sincere,” Volkanovski mentioned. “I solely had six weeks’ discover for this struggle. It was nonetheless a struggle that I needed. I knew that this was an enormous alternative – first struggle on ‘Combat Island.’ No different sports activities. I needed to get a struggle in whereas there’s no different sports activities actually taking place, and once more, three title fights on this card.

“This card is big, huge, and I needed to be part of it. I made positive that occurred. Once more, I don’t want a lot time to prepare. If we get a couple of weeks, I’m fight-fit, so I’m in good nick. I’m able to roll. I’ve acquired one thing to show. I needed to get out right here and compete, present everybody that I’m the most effective featherweight on the earth. I need to put Max away.”

Max Holloway (purple gloves) fights Alexander Volkanovski (blue gloves) throughout UFC 245 (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports activities)

Volkanovski is totally conscious that Holloway’s greatest moments within the authentic assembly got here late. After all, Volkanovski is fast to level out he was nursing a damaged hand on the time. However after 25 minutes within the cage with Holloway, Volkanovski is assured it’s only a good matchup for him.

“I really feel like that is going to be further rounds,” Volkanovski mentioned. “I felt him out. Now I can perform a little bit extra. I don’t have a damaged hand. I don’t have to complete the final spherical with a damaged hand. I get to go there wholesome and with a very good recreation plan, figuring out what I can do and what is going to occur, so I’m wanting ahead to this.

“I’d sound actual assured, however that’s as a result of I’m. I’m very assured, and I imagine in my skills, and I’m going to point out the world I”m the most effective featherweight on the earth, and that’s it.”

And Volkanovski believes there’s one very clear technique to do precisely that. Certain, one other win could be nice. However he desires a end to make an actual declare of his rightful spot.

“I’m going for the end, and I feel it’s going to be a end,” Volkanovski mentioned. “I’ve quite a lot of respect for him as a fighter, who he’s. He’s a sturdy fighter, as nicely, acquired an awesome chin, so me placing him away is basically sending a press release, and that basically, actually cements me into the place I need to be, in order that’s what I plan on doing.”