The UFC is known for its bloody encounters and brutal knockouts, but Australian superstar Alexander Volkanovski has unearthed a surprising target demographic for the sport.
Volkanovski travelled to Fight Island in the United Arab Emirates this week in preparation for UFC 251, which boasts three title fights on the main card. But ahead of his highly-anticipated rematch with former featherweight champion Max Holloway, Volkanovski has shared his journey in a children’s book — titled Alexander ‘The Great’.
The book details the 31-year-old’s rise through the ranks of the UFC with a key message for the next wave of fighters looking to follow in his footsteps.
Written by Courtney Beaton and illustrated by Samuel Hall, it attempts to soften the often-violent image of the UFC and showcase the true athleticism of its biggest names – and with two daughters of his own, Volkanovski is prepared to lead that charge.
“I’m not like a lot of the other fighters. I am a proud family man and I know I have a lot of kids looking up to me – a lot of kids want to be me and I want to be a great role model for them and my daughters” Volkanovski said.
“There is so many sides to this sport people don’t get to see and there are a lot of family-orientated fighters who have sacrificed so much to get to get here. This book is a chance to showcase and celebrate that side too.”
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Volkanovski secured a narrow victory over Holloway at UFC 245 in December 2019 to claim the featherweight title, and the first Australian-born UFC world champion is adamant he’ll muster a KO victory against his main rival next month.
“Having that on Fight Island … it just adds a whole other aspect. This sport’s crazy enough as it is, but now to have all of this happening, it’s crazy.
“The world’s gonna be watching, and I can’t wait for the world to hear my hands fly, hear those connections echoing through their screens.
“I can’t wait to show the world what I’m made of. I can beat anyone, anywhere, any way … I know I’m better than him. Now, I’m going to prove he can be knocked out.
“A lot of people say he can’t be knocked out. He’s got a good chin, yes he does, he’s durable. But I’m going to show everyone I’m a whole different beast.
“I’m going to get that respect on my name, and to do that, I have to knock him out.
“I’m finishing him inside the five, 100 per cent.”
Crowds have understandably not been permitted to attend UFC events since the coronavirus outbreak, which Volkanovski believes has heightened the experience for broadcast viewers.
“You’d be surprised how quiet it is in the Octagon, even with a crowd. Sometimes it gets pretty quiet in there. There’s a lot we hear that people on TV won’t,” Volkanovski said.
“Everybody obviously wants to fight in front of a crowd — it brings energy and everyone loves it. But while there’s no crowds, it’s good for the people watching.
“They get to hear what it sounds like to get punched in the face, to get kicked in the leg, even just to get slammed in the ground, hearing people gasping for air, and hearing the coaches talking to their fighters and seeing the fighters reacting, hearing the fighters talk to each other.
“It’s something we don’t get to see from behind a screen, but now you get all that.”
Alexander ‘The Great’ is available for pre-sale via the website.