There was a meeting of two world champions in Thailand last weekend as Alex Volkanovski and Superbon Banchamek held seminars for the grand opening of Bang Tao Muay Thai in Phuket. Both men are featherweight champions and contenders to be the pound for pound king in their respective sports.

The Australian currently sits at #2 in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings. He gave an interview with SCMP and Volkanovski believes Superbon could easily make the transition to MMA,

“It’s not hard. He obviously knows striking is his thing. He doesn’t need to learn how to be a real good jiu-jitsu grappler or a real good wrestler. He just needs to learn how to not get to the mat.”

Alex Volkanovski at Bang Tao Muay Thai

Play to your strengths

Volkanovski thinks that too many mixed martial artists make the mistake of focusing too heavily on areas that they are weaker in. His advice to Superbon, and to any aspiring fighters looking to make it in the sport, is to play to your strengths,

“A lot of strikers, they throw them in a grappling class and they’re doing a lot of attacks. Don’t waste any time grappling off your back. Get to your feet. That should be your main focus – not getting put on your back, cage work, distance control, little things like that.”

Several fighters in ONE Championship have competed under both MMA and kickboxing or Muay Thai rules including Eduard Folayang and Stamp Faritex. Volkanovski thinks that Superbon is someone who could definitely end up being successful in a different sport,

“There’s not too much to learn. His striking is where it’s at. I feel like with the right coaches they could turn him into a real beast in MMA,” he said.

Alex Volkanovski demonstrates a low kick at Bang Tao Muay Thai

Right things

The Australian picked apart The Korean Zombie at UFC 273 last weekend. But he still believes there is room for his striking to improve and believes Superbon could help with that,

“I’d love to pick his brains. We can definitely do that. I can help him with some MMA stuff, and there’s always room for improvement with that Muay Thai and kickboxing base.”

Volkanovski has spent a lot of time training in Thailand. He was at Bang Tao along with his long term coach Joe Lopez and hinted that he would be interested in working as a trainer in the future,

“I would love to help train some of these guys,. I would have a lot of focus on the right things. I won’t let them waste time and energy on things we don’t want them doing anyway.”

Alex Volkanovski demonstrates a low kick at Bang Tao Muay Thai

Kickboxing base

Volkanovski already has a blueprint in mind for Superbon,

“We want him on the feet, so we’ll do everything to keep him there and get him back to there. I would love to do something like that with him.”

Since the pandemic he has primarily been training in Australia. But Volkanovski has also spent time at the City Kickboxing gym in Auckland. He has witnessed first hand just how effectively kickboxers can transition to MMA,

“Israel Adesanya has a kickboxing base, Brad Riddell, a lot of these guys were just kickboxers, and now with the right team, and the right knowledge and approach to transition, look what you can be capable of”