After suffering a knockout loss to Islam Makhachev last month, Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) will make less than a four-month turnaround to defend his featherweight title against unbeaten Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the Feb. 17 headliner.
Having experienced a clean knockout loss before, Sterling advises Volkanovski to take more time off to recover. He sees a fight against a knockout artist like Topuria as a dangerous move.
“If he does make the walk for February, the way it sits right now, I do think we’re going to see an upset,” Sterling said on his YouTube channel. “I hate to say it because it makes it seem like I’m going against Volkanovski, I’m doubting Volkanovski, but I’m not. What I’m saying is given the situation, I think now is the time for a hard-hitter, boxer who can actually grapple but just doesn’t grapple in Topuria, to get a guy like Volkanovski.
“He puts together better punching combinations. Volkanovski’s more pot shot here, here, here, and it’s like an accumulative damage that he does and then eventually he finds the finishing touches. But Topuria, when he hits you, he puts everything into those punches, into those body shots. I think if Volkanovski’s not the sharpest that he can be, which would have been before taking that Islam fight … but now I’m liking Topuria’s chances, and I have to lean on the side of the contender in this one.”
Volkanovski is widely considered as one of the greatest featherweights of all time. “The Great” has defended his title five times – twice against Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Chan Sun Jung, and most recently Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290.
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