Ilia Topuria isn’t interested in settling old grudges anymore.
Later this month, Topuria faces Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title in the main event of UFC 298. It’s a big step up in competition for Topuria, but one he feels exceedingly confident about because he believes he’s the best fighter in the world at both featherweight and lightweight.
“It’s inevitable. I’m going to win this fight,” Topuria said on The MMA Hour. “It’s my destiny. It always was my destiny. I was born a fighter. I was born as a UFC world champion. I know my level, I know myself, I have the capacity to analyze all my opponents, and I know that I’m better than anyone in my division, even in the next weight class, I’m better than everybody. It’s just a matter of time that I’m going to prove all of them, time and time again, wrong.”
Should he win the belt, Topuria already has plans to chase Conor McGregor for his next fight, and after that, perhaps a run at lightweight. Of course, a move up to 155 inevitably brings about a possible grudge match with Paddy Pimblett. Topuria and Pimblett have gone back and forth with one another for years, even nearly coming to blows at a UFC 282 press conference. But despite his continuing animosity for Pimblett, Topuria says he has no interest in fighting him in the octagon anymore.
“A lot of money? With Paddy?” Topuria said when asked about that possible fight. “Who gives a f*** about him? I take every fight as a professional. I look to all my opponents as a professional, but with him, it’s personal. If I see him in the supermarket, I’d smash him right there.
“He’s not even ranked. Did you watch his last fight? It was embarrassing. His last fight was embarrassing. The level he showed in that fight, that’s embarrassing. He looked like a beginner.”
Pimblett isn’t the only fighter Topuria dismissed outright. UFC bantamweight champion Sean O’Malley has also called out Topuria, saying that if he successfully defends his title against Chito Vera at UFC 299, and Topuria beats Volkanovski, a champ vs. champ battle will happen next. But Topuria disagrees.
“Listen, he has a lot to prove in his weight class,” Topuria said. “He’s fighting with No. 6 guy in the ranking, who whooped his ass in the past. I don’t think he’s going to beat ‘Chito.’ I think ‘Chito’ is going to beat O’Malley. But even if he does, he has a lot to prove in his weight division.”
Regardless of who ends up being his next fight after Volkanovski, Topuria is convinced that it will be a big fight. Because once he wins the UFC title, every fight will be big.
“After me smashing Alex, I’m the money fight,” Topuria said. “You will see. Everyone is going to start calling me out, because I will be the money fight. I’m not going to need any name, any weight division. I will be the money fight.”