Josh Emmett on Alexander Volkanovski vs. Ilia Topuria: ‘It’s hard for me to bet against such a dominant champion’

Josh Emmett is conflicted in his pick between UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria.

Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) defends his title against Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the UFC 298 headliner Feb. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Emmett (19-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) recently suffered a lopsided decision loss to Topuria but was able to rebound with a Knockout of the Year contender against Bryce Mitchell at UFC 296. He has a hard time picking a definitive winner between Volkanovski and Topuria but sees the five-time defending champion as a safer pick.

“It’s hard for me to predict fights, but I can argue how both guys get it done,” Emmett said on the JAXXON PODCAST with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. “Volk is one of the pound-for-pound best. He continues to improve and kind of prove people wrong, as well. It’s always like the fight, like OK, ‘He’s going to lose now.’ But then he finally got to the point where he’s earned people’s respect.

“But Ilia’s young, he’s hungry, he’s talented. I know he’s been saying a lot of stuff, like how he’s going to go out there and finish him in the first round and stuff like that. Hopefully he’s not overlooking him. I don’t think he is. I think that’s just kind of a part of his persona. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to bet against such a dominant champion.”

Emmett had his opportunity at gold when he was submitted by Yair Rodriguez for the interim featherweight title at UFC 284. Two of Volkanovski’s past three fights were for the lightweight belt, but Emmett doesn’t think he held up the division.

“I don’t at all,” Emmett said on having an issue with Volkanovski fighting at lightweight. “He was a pound-for-pound No. 1. The guy’s earned his respect. Let him do whatever the hell he wants to do. He’s bouncing back and forth. He’s super active. He’s the one that was campaigning for Yair and I to fight for the interim title.

“I have no bad taste in my mouth. He’s a good dude. Like, he’s a great, great champion, and he’s a good person, as well. When I was fighting Yair in Perth earlier this year, he brought his belt and he’s like, ‘Hey, you want to hold this? This is what you’re fighting for.’ He’s a good dude.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie