UFC star Casey O'Neill: Alexander Volkanovski 'showed the heart of a champion'

  • Tom Ward
Casey O'Neill taking inspiration from Alexander Volkanovski ahead of UFC Vegas 38

Casey O’Neill is about as honest and as real as it gets. 

Like many of us, O’Neill found herself on the edge of her seat as she watched Alexander Volkanovski defend his featherweight title against Brian Ortega at UFC 266 on September 25.

“That fight was insane,” O’Neill told GIVEMESPORT. “That third round was crazy, I was jumping up and down at one point, I felt my stomach fall like three or four times during the fight but it was great.  

“That’s what the heart of a champion really is, that inspired me for this weekend, you know, no matter what happens just keep fighting, the end is not the end until you decide it’s the end.

“I don’t know many people that would have got out of that guillotine so yeah, he’s a legend, and that was an awesome fight.”

O’Neill takes on Antonina Shevchenko (9-3) on Saturday in Las Vegas and is hoping to extend her professional record to a perfect 8-0. Shevchenko is the older sister of the UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

The pair have previously trained together in the past and the Scottish UFC fighter has identified some weaknesses she thinks she can exploit.

“We trained together at Tiger Muay Thai at the same time, actually, so we were friends for a little while,” she added.

“But I definitely know her skillset, I definitely don’t think she’s her sister, I think she’s similar to the rest of the girls in the division, sort of like, good everywhere, but not great anywhere.

“So yeah, I think that my pace and my pressure is going to be a problem, and I’m going to be able to take her down and finish her on the ground.”

Once a wandering nomad, O’Neill has found a place to call home at Xtreme Couture, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Eric definitely makes everybody know that they have to believe in themselves,” she said, speaking about her close bond with head coach Eric Nicksick. “Which helps a lot because, when you have a coach who believes in you as hard as he does, it’s hard not to believe in yourself.

“He pushes us really hard in practice as well so that when we get into the fight, we’re never uncomfortable, we’re never tired, because we’ve been through this and we’re used to it already.

“So yeah, Eric’s been great. I call him ‘Papa Bear’, he leads the way for everyone, he’s the captain of the ship. 

“Xtreme welcomed me with open arms when I got here about a year ago and I love it, I’m not looking back, I’m not looking to go anywhere else anytime soon.”      

She added: “To be honest I don’t really have days off, I even train on Sundays, I’m a little bit crazy like that.

“I come home for a nap and I go back to training. But if I do take a day off though, it has to be something active. 

“When I was in Thailand, I spent a lot of time at the beach. Obviously in Vegas, there’s no beach. So I spend most of my time here trying to find water.” 

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UFC Vegas 38 takes place Saturday night. The early prelims will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass, while the preliminary card and main card will be broadcast live on BT Sport.

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