UFC 273 is only two nights of sleep away and the fights have conducted their pre-fight interviews. All the fighters on the card were at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida to speak to journalists about their upcoming fights
Here are the summaries and videos of the interviews of Alexander Volkanovski, The Korean Zombie, Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, Khamzat Chimaev, and Gilbert Burns.
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Alexander Volkanovski, the third ranked fighter on the UFC rankings, hopes to be considered the greatest featherweight of all time but he’s not ready to put himself on top of that list just yet.
As he prepares to defend his title for the third time at UFC 273, the 33-year-old Australian knows he’s already held in high regard amongst his peers as well as fight fans but he still looks at one of his former opponents as the best there’s ever been at 145 pounds.
“I believe I’ve still got more work to do [to be the greatest],” Volkanovski said at UFC 273 media day. “I give [Jose] Aldo the respect. To be champion for as long as he was, he’s incredible. No matter the opposition that I’m facing like himself, Max [Holloway] and that, I’m fighting absolute killers, it’s pretty clear.
According to the reigning 145-pound UFC champion, McGregor’s relatively short run at featherweight ultimately disqualifies him from sitting alongside the other fighters who held the title in the UFC.
“You need [title] defenses, that’s the thing,” Volkanovski said. “I’m going to give him respect. The dude can fight. He made some bad decisions and all that type of stuff but he can fight. To take out Aldo in Aldo’s prime, that’s saying something as well. Aldo is still showing he’s still in his prime, he doesn’t age. But again, I feel like I’ve definitely done a lot more than him so out of all the champions, I’d say he would have to be at the bottom of the list. He ain’t gonna like that but whatever.”
No obligations, no nerves, no threats: ‘The Korean Zombie’ explains why he’ll finally win title at UFC 273
A lot has changed for “The Korean Zombie” between his two stints as the next man up.
It’ll be nearly a decade between title challenges for Chan Sung Jung when he steps into the UFC 273 main event Saturday opposite Alexander Volkanovski. The first championship opportunity was at UFC 163 in August 2013. Against then-champion Jose Aldo, Jung lost by TKO due to a shoulder injury in Round 4.
Since then, Jung (17-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC) has experienced ups and downs – with the ups outweighing the downs in terms of wins and losses. He’s 4-2, with victories over Frankie Edgar and Dan Ige among others. Improvements inside the cage have come, but Jung thinks mental adjustments and reframing will be the difference in him succeeding against Volkanovski (23-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) in his second shot at UFC gold.
“When I prepared for my first title fight, I was very nervous,” Jung told reporters, including MMA Junkie, through an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC 273 media day. “Everything was really new for me. I was really young, so at that age, challenging for a world championship title was obviously very unnerving for me. I was very nervous, but now I feel like I’ve become older because I feel less nervous, and I’m more experienced. I’m more prepared for the fight than when I was preparing for the Aldo fight.”
“When I was in Brazil for the Aldo fight, a lot of the Brazilians out there whenever they came across me, they were like, ‘You’re probably going to lose. You’re probably going to die in the octagon.’ So it was kind of threatening for me. I was nervous that that happened. But because of that experience, right now, I don’t care. Whoever walks up to me and says what the result is going to be, I don’t really care. I’m prepared for the fight.”
Aljamain Sterling ponders before UFC 273: ‘What are people going to say if and when I smoke’ Petr Yan?
What goes around, comes around.
If you’re someone who has talked trash about Aljamain Sterling over the past 13 months, expect that old adage to hold true – and to hear it from the champion after it all plays out Saturday at UFC 273.
Since he won the title by disqualification at UFC 259 in March 2021, Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) has heard it from the masses. Whether fair criticism or mocking insults, Sterling has leaned into the villain role at times in an effort to play along. But at the end of the day, there are some real feelings expressed toward the negative comments, messages and posts that continue to flow his way.
“In the beginning, I was trying to get people to understand,” Sterling told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at UFC 273 media day on Wednesday. “They were asking me why I looked like that. As I tell them, they sh*t on me. I’m like, ‘All right, at this point, if you guys are going to make fun of me, I’m going to take this and run with this.’ People were saying they didn’t like the way I handled it. I’m like, ‘Let’s be straight here. I handled it this way because of the people. If it wasn’t for that, the way I let the belt go in the octagon, that shows exactly how I felt about it.”
Sterling didn’t want to officially win the title that way, but he’s comfortable in his belief that he already proved he’s the best in the world. At a time in which there was not a champion, Sterling fought Cory Sandhagen. Meanwhile, Petr Yan fought Jose Aldo for the vacant title. In Sterling’s mind, his matchup was much more difficult for both men than Yan vs. Aldo was for those two competitors. Sterling reiterated his thought the belt’s association to that fight was nothing more than a popularity contest token.
Petr Yan before UFC 273: Aljamain Sterling doesn’t behave like a worthy rival or man
Despite the intense build-up, Petr Yan doesn’t think Aljamain Sterling ultimately will stack up as one of his biggest rivals.
Yan (16-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC), the bantamweight interim champion, will look to unify the title with champ Sterling in Saturday’s UFC 273 co-main event at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. Yan wants to rectify his wrong from their first outing in March 2021 when he was disqualified for striking Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) with an illegal knee. Although the storyline is there and their rivalry continues to intensify, Yan finds it hard to rate Sterling as a top rival competitively.
“Let’s wait until Saturday and see if he’s really a worthy rival or not,” Yan told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC 273 media day. “I’ll have a long career ahead, and I believe I’m gonna have a lot more worthy rivals. And I think right now the way he behaves, he doesn’t behave like a worthy rival or like a man.”
He continued, “I can’t say it’s personal, but it’s very important for me to beat him up and show who he truly is. In UFC history, there is no one who won a belt that way, but he still thinks he’s a champion. It’s absurd.”
In Khamzat Chimaev, Gilbert Burns doesn’t ‘see a monster.’ He sees ‘a human being’ he can finish.
Former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns knows a tough test is in store at UFC 273, but he sees it as another opportunity to prove why he’s among the top of the division.
Standing across Burns (20-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) on Saturday will be Khamzat Chimaev, an undefeated wrecking machine who has quickly captured an abundance of hype after just four UFC appearances.
Chimaev (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has finished three consecutive fights in the first round and been pushed to the top of the division, with many believing he’s one win away from a title shot against champion Kamaru Usman. It’s a challenge that Burns did not shy away from. In fact, it’s one that he requested.
“This guy is very tough, but we’re gonna test and see if this guy is real or not,” Burns told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “I’m here. I’m the guy to test this guy, to stop the hype train. So, I like it. I’m here in this position. I asked to be here. I want to fight the best guys. If he’s one of those, if he’s that beast, that’s the guy I want to fight.”
Khamzat Chimaev trashes Kamaru Usman, calls Colby Covington a ‘b****’: ‘I’m already the champ’
Khamzat Chimaev is just days away from the biggest fight of his career against one-time title challenger Gilbert Burns at UFC 273, but in his mind, the victory has already been secured and he’s just biding his time until officially claiming the welterweight title.
With an unblemished record including four wins in the UFC — all by first- or second-round stoppage — Chimaev has all the hype around him right now and he believes reigning champion Kamaru Usman is doing everything possible to avoid him.
“I’m already the champ,” Chimaev said during UFC 273 media day. “That guy doesn’t want to fight me. He goes out to do the surgery and then he wants to go do the boxing somewhere. He can fix his arm and then go do the boxing, I don’t know. The other guy [Leon Edwards], he didn’t fight somebody in the top 10.
“They always find some excuse. I am already the champ. People know that.”
Chimaev’s tirade aimed at Usman didn’t stop there, especially when the conversation turned towards the title as he seeks to beat Burns on Saturday night and become the No. 1 contender.
Of course, Leon Edwards has already been promised the next shot at welterweight gold but Chimaev has no interest in seeing him battle Usman.
“They have to give me that title,” Chimaev said. “I want to smash everyone. They have to give me that title if I smash everyone. Who is going to be next? I don’t care.
“If they do that fight [between Usman and Edwards]— [does] somebody care about that fight? I don’t think so. Dana White wants to make that fight. Leon Edwards, nobody knows that guy and Usman, he’s the same. Nobody wants to see that guy. Everybody wants to see me there and smash them both. If they give me both guys the same night, I’m going to smash them both.”