AFTER back-to-back world title bouts against Hawaii's Max Holloway, South Coast UFC fighter Alex Volkanovski appears to be on a collision course with Brian Ortega.
United States' Ortega took down the 'Korean Zombie' Chan Sung Jung in a dominant five-round points decision at the weekend, to become the number one contender for the UFC featherweight belt.
After UFC president Dana White announced the winner of that fight would be next to take on the former Warilla-Lake South Gorilla, the stars have aligned for Volkanovski.
"I enjoyed watching Sunday's fight," Volkanovski said.
"Ortega turned it up and changed his game, which I think he needed to do.
"If I was to fight either of those two, I would be patient with my shot selections and keep my distance.
"In his time away from the octagon, it's evident Ortega has levelled up, done some study and really picked up his game.
"They're calling him 'Ortega 2.0' which is exciting but he didn't show me anything I didn't already know.
"No offence to him, that fight style on Sunday won't work as well on me - but he's now got time to level up even more.
"The old Ortega would really struggle against the likes of Max Holloway or myself but I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking on this improved opponent.
"At the end of the day, I just wanted another fight, and as soon as someone goes out and gets the number one contender spot, people are going to start talking about it.
"Now, he's supposedly the man who's going to take me out - I love everything about that, bring it on, I can't wait."
Although no date has been announced, the likely bout between the 22-1 Windang product and 15-1 Ortega is shaping up to take place in early 2021.
"He [Ortega] has only just fought, so it would be a quick turnaround for him if we fought this year - which would be very hard on him," Volkanovski said.
"Early next year sounds really good for my camp. Although no confirmation of fighter or date has come out, when Dana White goes on record with something, it usually happens - we were all pretty certain the winner of Sunday's fight was going to get a shot at my belt.
"Good on Ortega for going out and taking that number one spot and earning that shot. From where I'm standing, it's pretty clear he'll be my next opponent."
A win in this bout would go a long way to cementing Volkanovski's legacy in the UFC.
"As the champion, you need to fight the best guys and he's proven to be the number one contender," he said.
"Everyone thought 'Zombie' might be the man to do it, people thought Ortega might be done, but he switched that around very quickly.
"Ortega is the new challenger I'm going to have to worry about and until I prove all those nay-sayers wrong again.
"If you want a legacy in this sport, you take out the best guys next in the line.
"You defend your belt against guys people think can beat you and prove them wrong until there is no one else."
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