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Alexander Volkanovski denied hometown honour due to opposition to MMA

UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, currently ranked as the no.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, has been dominating his division and has a successful MMA career with many achievements. However, despite being a representative of Wollongong, his hometown in New South Wales, Australia, he will not be honoured with the city’s highest award, the key to the city.

The reason behind this decision is the sport he is involved in, which is mixed martial arts (MMA). Wollongong’s Mayor, Gordon Bradbery, opposes MMA, viewing it as a form of violence. He believes that endorsing Volkanovski, a prominent figure in MMA, would send the wrong message to the youth of the town, as it would promote violence, something that goes against the peaceful spirit of Wollongong’s community.

The city of Wollongong traditionally gives the key to notable individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in their respective fields. Despite Volkanovski’s achievements and recognition worldwide, he won’t receive this honour due to the mayor’s opposition to MMA.

The Mayor’s stance on MMA can be attributed to his age and previous profession as a church pastor before entering politics. Australia, in general, has had some skepticism about MMA, and it has been subject to occasional criticism in the media, with some attributing it to various forms of violence.

While Volkanovski will not have the keys to Wollongong, he continues to enjoy his success in the sport, having amassed wealth, achieved five 145-pound title defences, and gained worldwide recognition as one of the best fighters in MMA. Additionally, he has been honoured by the nearby town of Shellharbour, where he grew up, with the keys to their city after winning his first championship in 2020.

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