Alexander Volkanovski ready for a big fight at featherweight

Alexander Volkanovski [top] is looking for a high-profile fight in the United States. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Australian featherweight Alexander Volkanovski improved to 4-0 in the UFC earlier this month, then immediately called out Jeremy Stephens and Andre Fili as his potential next opponents.

Unfortunately, since then, the UFC has informed Volkanovski (17-1) that neither of those opponents is available. Not to be discouraged, Volkanovski has already come up with two fresh targets for the promotion to look into.

"I believe Yair Rodriguez is a good fight, and Doo Ho Choi, as well," Volkanovski told ESPN. "I want a ranked opponent. I deserve a ranked opponent. I'm 4-0 in the UFC, and I haven't lost a round."

Volkanovski, who finished Jeremy Kennedy via TKO at UFC 221, says he won't be surprised if his new targets attempt to ignore him.

Currently, Volkanovski is ranked lower than Rodriguez (10-2) and Choi (14-3). Rodriguez in particular recently told ESPN he wants a highly ranked opponent when he returns to the Octagon this year.

That being said, Volkanovski doesn't believe either of his callouts is in position to turn down a fight.

"Who wants to fight someone who is ranked lower than them, but will be just as hard -- if not harder -- of a fight than the guys ranked above them?" Volkanovski said. "I get that. I totally get that. But these guys are coming off big losses.

"Yair Rodriguez lost to Frankie Edgar and has taken nine months off. Doo Ho Choi is coming off two losses against ranked opponents. If they want to fight someone ranked higher, I think they need to earn it by facing me. Beat me, and earn a fight against the top dogs."

Fighting out of New South Wales, Australia, Volkanovski is pushing for a fight around May or June -- in the U.S.

Thus far, all of Volkanovski's UFC fights have taken place in Australia or New Zealand. That's not necessarily a negative thing, but he wants to make an impression on the U.S. fan base.

"Obviously, you're going to have people watch your fights worldwide, but it feels like there are more eyes on you on that side of the world," Volkanovski said. "I want to show people on that side of the world that I'm a beast and ready to go at the top."

The 29-year-old featherweight has thoroughly manhandled UFC opposition thus far, accumulating 14 takedowns in four contests. He has done so in spite of several inopportune injuries, including a torn knee ligament during his most recent camp.

Volkanovski says he's healthy now, however, and looking forward to an early-summer return. And he's certainly being proactive as far as against whom that return will come.

"When I called out Fili, I said I wanted the bullies, and I had people tell me, 'He's a nice guy!' I was like, 'My bad,'" Volkanovski said.

"These guys probably aren't bullies in real life. What I mean is, they try to be marketable by playing that way on the internet. And I get that. I'm saying, 'All right, you want to play the bad guy, I'll play the good guy.' I want one of these ranked guys who likes to talk."