Topuria not impressed with featherweight challengers: ‘The division sucks’

    Ilia Topuria just became champion of the featherweight division and already he’s unimpressed with the level of competition below him.

    Topuria did what no other 145er has been able to do, dispatching Alexander Volkanovski via KO just two rounds into their title fight at UFC 298 (watch the finish here). That opens the division back up to everyone “The Great” has been shutting down for years … or it would, if Ilia was interested in fighting the past challengers of the division.

    When asked by ESPN’s Megan Olivi who stood out to him at featherweight right now, he was dismissive.

    “Right now? Nobody,” he said. “The division really sucks. We need new challengers. We need a couple more fighters in the division. So we’re going to see what happens in the future and hopefully we’re going to have some clear challenger. But right now there is nobody.”

    He expanded on that opinion during the UFC 298 post-fight press conference.

    “Max Holloway and all of them? No, they don’t make any sense for me right now,” he said. “As I said, I need new challengers. New ones. So there are some upcoming fights. We’ll see how they’re going to play out. And you’re going to see ‘El Matador’ [as champion] for a while.”

    That’s bad news for Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega, who have a featherweight contender fight in Mexico next weekend (Sat. Feb. 24, 2024). Good news for Alexander Volkanovski, who was pushing hard for a rematch with “El Matador” from the moment he recovered from the right hand that knocked him out.

    “To be honest, at this point I’m like, OK, I’m going to give him the rematch because he’s a good person,” Topuria said. “But at the same time, it’s time to move on. It’s time to clean up a little bit the division. It’s time for the new generation to have new challengers, new faces. And I think I will be looking for that. But to honest, my job, it’s to fight. Whoever they tell me I’m going to have to face and fight next, I will be there. So that’s it.”

    “At this point, I think that’s the fight in the division which makes more sense than any fight, you know?” he concluded. “So we’ll see. I don’t know. I have to sit down with my management team and the UFC and we’ll see what the future is holding for me.”

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