The noted UFC icon Conor McGregor may have graced a plethora of non-MMA sporting events with his presence. But there are a few other fighters who have competed in a different sport actively before transitioning to MMA. Most fans may know that the sport of Rugby is followed massively in the current UFC featherweight champ, Alexander Volkanovski’s homeland, Australia. However, a lot of them may be unaware of the fact that ‘Volk’ has also competed as a rugby athlete.
When did Alexander Volkanovski get into the sport of rugby?
Reports say that ‘Volk’ stepped into the rugby field for the first time at the age of 14 with his friend while hanging out with one of his school friends. In an episode of the noted UFC color commentator Joe Rogan’s podcast, ‘Volk’ revealed that he quickly developed a liking for rugby and got into regular practice as well.
In which position did Alexander Volkanovski play rugby?
Despite his relatively short physique, Volkanovski was never afraid of clashing with the much bigger rivals. This is why he took up the position of a ‘Front Row Forward’ or a ‘Prop’ in the sport. His coaches and teammates appreciated his tough spirit as he launched ferocious tackles to break through the defenses of his rival teams.
Has Alexander Volkanovski competed professionally in the sport of rugby?
‘The Great’ has donned the jerseys of a few noted Australian rugby franchises, including the Illawarra Steelers and Warilla-Lake South Gorillas. He has also competed in a few major Australian professional and semi-professional rugby tournaments.
The Group 7 Rugby League (formerly South Coast Rugby League) (semi-professional) and the New South Wales Rugby League (professional) are the most reputed tournaments in which ‘Volk’ has competed.
Does Alexander Volkanovski boast any noteworthy achievements in his rugby career?
The UFC featherweight champ’s most noted achievements in the sport of Rugby came while playing for the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas. In 2010, he bagged the ‘Mick Cronin’ medal, after getting elected as Group 7 Rugby League’s best player of the season. The 2011 season of the League also proved to be a thoroughly fruitful one for ‘Volk’. He claimed the ‘Man of the Match’ award in the 2011 finals, guiding the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas to a triumph.
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When and why did Alexander Volkanovski give up rugby?
The Australian was 23 when he decided to give up rugby to pursue a career in MMA. ‘Volk’ has never detailed the exact reason behind this decision. But a look at the types of sports he liked from childhood may give us an idea. ‘The Great’ has revealed how he was born and brought up in a neighborhood full of people who were tough and worked hard. This is why he always had a knack for taking up challenges which got him attracted to combat sports.
Volkanovski has won the Australian National Wrestling Championships twice as well. Hence, it’s apparent that he always had the background of making a transition to combat sports. It finally happened while he was 23.
After such a decorated UFC career, will Alexander Volkanovski return to professional rugby?
Volkanovski was a noted rugby athlete when he chose to leave it and transition to MMA. He has showcased multiple times that he’s not afraid to take the road not taken. So, despite amassing much more fame and wealth from his pro-MMA and UFC career, it won’t be surprising if ‘Volk’ decides to leave the UFC one day and go back to the rugby field. But Volkanovski is 35 currently and hence the chances of him making such a decision are pretty faint.
After knowing about Alexander Volkanovski’s rugby career, most fans might find a link between him and the noted NBA legend Michael Jordan. Both of them just wanted to be the best at what they did. 17 February 2024 will provide ‘The Great’ with another opportunity to showcase he is indeed the best featherweight MMA fighter in the world. A lot of his fans are currently waiting to watch him defend his UFC featherweight gold for the fourth time at UFC 298.