Josh Emmett says Alex Volkanovski is featherweight GOAT – ‘I don’t see him losing for a while’

by John Hyon Ko

  • Contender Emmett says 145-pound champ Volkanovski ‘just looks better and better every fight’

  • American gives injury update and hopes for a ‘big opportunity’ upon return after knee surgery

Alexander Volkanovski celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during UFC 251. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Max Holloway may have something to say about it, but contender Josh Emmett is adamant Alexander Volkanovski is the greatest featherweight in UFC history.

The debate has been going on for years over who is the true 145-pound “GOAT” (greatest of all time), with Brazil’s Jose Aldo (28-7) and “Blessed” Holloway (21-6) firmly in the picture.

But the No 7-ranked American Emmett (16-2) holds the reigning Australian champ in high regard because of his recent performances against the top echelon of the division.

“Volkanovski just looks better and better every fight,” Emmett told SCMP MMA. “He also beat Jose Aldo, in Brazil, in Rio. He used to be recognised as the GOAT. Then he fought Holloway twice and got two wins over him. Right now I would say he has that title because he beat two of the best featherweights in UFC history.”

“I don’t see Volkanovski losing for quite a while,” he added.

The 35-year-old Emmett is coming off an incredible outing against Shane Burgos (13-2) in June in Las Vegas which extended his winning streak to three fights and earned him back-to-back performance bonuses.

He badly injured his left knee during the opening round but still knocked Burgos down twice while gritting his teeth through the agony. When the dust settled, scans revealed he had suffered a completely torn ACL, a partially torn MCL, and some impact fractures on the fibula and tibia.

It’s not been a smooth road to recovery for Emmett, but he’s keeping a positive outlook.

“General people [doctors] will say nine to twelve months. Athletes, they’re saying possibly before I can start doing stuff like six months and then it depends,” he said. “In a perfect case scenario, they want me doing rehab for nine to 11 months and then booking a fight. So I would fight at the 11 or 13-month marker.

Josh Emmett punches Shane Burgos in their featherweight bout during UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex. Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

“But still, in my mind, I feel like that’s too long. I’m going to do whatever I can to beat those statistics. I just feel like that’s too long. But I know I can’t rush biology so I’m just playing it safe.

“I’m one hundred per cent focused on [physical rehab]. This is my job so that’s all I‘ve been doing for the last three months.”

Even though it will take some time before he steps back into the cage, Emmett hasn’t been deterred from keeping an eye on the division and visualizing his next move.

“A lot of people in front of me, they will eventually fight and so I always try to look at things in a positive way, you know, find a silver lining,” he said.

“The people will fight and three people will lose so possibly I will kind of just move up the rankings and won’t have to do anything. So when I am healthy and cleared to fight, I may come back to a huge opportunity or just a huge fight.”

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