Alexander Volkanovski thought his fight with Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273 this past Saturday should have been stopped sooner.
Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight championship after stopping Jung via fourth-round technical knockout in one of the most dominant performances of his career. The ‘Great’ hurt ‘The Korean Zombie’ on several occasions, but the final shots in the beginning of the fourth round were enough for referee Herb Dean to step in and wave the fight off.
The 33-year-old admitted he was happy with the stoppage over the notoriously durable Jung but unhappy with how long it took.
“I was obviously happy with the finish,” Volkanovski told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I wanted it a little bit earlier, but we ended up getting it. He was tough, man. He ate some shots, he really did. He obviously lived up to that Zombie name. My hands were hurting, honestly. Even though you have that adrenaline rush, I remember I was landing jabs and punches and my hands were hurting. That’s how clean they were hitting. They were hitting flush, and he would be wobbled and rocked and all that and just come straight back to it, and I’d just do it again.
“I probably rocked him like fix, six times in there, maybe more,” continued Volkanovski. “By the end of it, I’m glad Herb stopped it because I felt like he definitely had enough. I think he was ready. He sort of knew it was over. He was defeated already, let’s get him back home to the family healthy, you know?”
Volkanovski says he knew the fight was over by the end of the third round, where he dropped Jung with a brutal combination. The City Kickboxing product swarmed and tried to finish it right there, but time expired and his opponent survived the onslaught. As ‘TKZ’ returned to his corner, there was genuine concern that he may not fully recover in time to answer the bell.
Though an overwhelming majority of fans and pundits believed his corner should throw in the towel and save their fighter, Jung prepared for the next round. That move worried Volkanovski, who was seen asking his opponent if he truly wanted to continue. When he signified he did, the fight resumed.
“In the third round, I wanted to get that finish,” said Volkanovski. “I was very close, maybe a couple of seconds — he did well. Again, he’s tough, where I was just about to get the finish and he rolled a little bit more and then just held out for when that buzzer went. But seeing him in the corner, obviously he was sitting on the ground, he was done. Like I said, he was defeated. Even when he got up and he was playing with his eye and was even wobbling to the center, I was [wondering] whether it was legit, which means it’s over anyway, or was it a sign to the ref and the commission like, ‘I’m done.’ Was that him asking for [a stoppage]? I don’t know, that’s sort of what I felt, so I just said to him, ‘Mate, are you sure you want to keep doing this?’ I don’t know if he understood me, but he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ and I’m like, ‘Are you sure? Alright.’
“I think Herb knew where it was at because I was like, ‘Come on, just stop it.’ I even said it a few times. So he was like I’ll give him one last little chance but as soon as he eats a couple, he was gonna call it. So obviously a lot of people knew it was done. Sometimes people being so tough, it’s worse for their own good. You don’t want to see them taking damage, especially where you could see he wasn’t really landing flush. Every time he did land, I saw them coming. I saw pretty much everything coming. Everyone knew it was pretty much over, so I’m glad he stopped it.”
As for what happens next, Volkanovski said he was ready for another fresh challenge in the featherweight division but also teased a return to lightweight for an opportunity to become a two-division champion.