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Volkanovski struggles in training, worries that COVID-19 may have ‘trashed’ him

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Alex Volkanovski, who is booked to defend his title against Brian Ortega, isn’t feeling fully fit.

UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski got a beatdown from COVID-19 earlier this year. After contracting the virus, the Australian was forced to withdraw from his title defence against Brian Ortega scheduled for UFC 260 in March.

After recovering from the virus Volkanovski revealed that his symptoms included coughing up blood. That distressing symptom was a sign that COVID had caused pneumonia in his lungs.

Volkanovski also said that he needed to go to the hospital at one point because the oxygen level in his blood dropped to 91%. A normal blood oxygen level is 95% or higher.

Seemingly with a clean bill of health, Volkanovski has just wrapped taping The Ultimate Fighter. For that show Volkanovski coached opposite Ortega, who he is expected to face later this year.

Despite being booked and appearing in UFC content, Volkanovski still appears to be struggling with his conditioning. In a recent Instagram live video, the fighter expressed concerns about his fitness level and wondered if it had something to do with his scary bout with COVID-19.

“Just did a strength session and was on the Airdyne bike, the assault bike. Tell you what, that got uncomfortable,” said Volkanovski, tapping his chest (ht MMA Mania). “I don’t know if it’s this bloody cold air in Australia because it’s freezing here; we came from Vegas where it’s boiling hot. We tried to do this outside, the assault bike ... it absolutely rocked me. I don’t know if it’s because of the COVID or it’s just the cold weather but damn it trashed me.”

The 22-1 Volkanovski has been perfect since joining the UFC in 2016. After debuting with a TKO win versus Yusuke Kasuya, ‘The Great’ won five straight to set up a bout with former champion Jose Aldo.

Volkanovski beat Aldo, by unanimous decision, at 2019’s UFC 237. That earned him a shot against then-champion Max Holloway. Volkanovski beat Holloway by unanimous decision at UFC 245. Volkanovski’s first defence was a split decision win over Holloway at UFC 251 last July.