Here’s How a “Death touch” United UFC Champion Alexander Volkanovski and His Coach

Published 09/19/2021, 1:47 PM EDT


Alexander Volkanovski, the featherweight champion of the UFC, is getting ready to make his second title defense against Brian Ortega at UFC 266.
Riding on an incredible 17 fight win streak in his MMA career, Volkanovski is one of the most determined and skillful fighters in the division’s history.

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A regular at the City Kickboxing Gym, Alexander Volkanovski has middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker as his stablemates. Under the guidance of Eugene Bareman, the Australian native has fine-tuned his skills to become an elite champion.

However, City Kickboxing isn’t the place where Volkanovski began his MMA journey. In fact, Volkanovski first walked into an MMA gym almost nine years ago. ‘Freestyle MMA’, is an MMA gym in Windang, Australia, run by Joe Lopez.

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A former kickboxer, Joe Lopez, is Alexander Volkanovski’s premier mentor in the sport of MMA. After working as a bouncer early on, Lopez started his security firm.


Nevertheless, as a fan of mixed martial arts in the ’80s, Lopez found himself infatuated with tales of the ‘Death punch’ and stories of Muay Thai fighters achieving enlightenment in India.

And while all his travels around the world didn’t give him insight regarding the fabled technique, the 58-year-old has served as a beacon of knowledge for Alexander Volkanovski.

Considering the tremendous success both fighter and coach have enjoyed since working together, they won’t be parting ways anytime soon.

Least bothered by Volkanovski being hailed as a product of CKB, Lopez believes in keeping his fighter first and prefers to work in the shadows. Come fight night, Joe Lopez will corner his phenomenal student, as Volkanovski aims to extend his reign as champion.

UFC 266: Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega

A fight that would have taken place much earlier this year, Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega, could be the fight of the year. While Volkanovski is coming off his second win against Max Holloway, Ortega is coming off an impressive victory against ‘The Korean Zombie.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JULY 12: Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Being the coaches for this year’s ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, both fighters got the time to engage with each other ahead of the fight. While things mostly stayed cordial between the two, the tension is certainly at an all-time high.

Going into this matchup, Brian Ortega will look to make a statement in his second shot at the title. However, Alexander Volkanovski might prove to be his biggest challenge till date.

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What do you think? Who wins this one? Let us know in the comments.

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David Andrew

147 articles

David Andrew is an MMA author at EssentiallySports with a background in English Literature from St. Stephens College. Prior to his current role, David, who combines his passion for writing and combat sports, contributed to the MMA divisions at Sportskeeda and The Sportsrush.

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