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CBS Sports Illustration

No one ever said that attempting to please everyone was easy, let alone a necessary or fair responsibility.  

Yet it was hard to ignore the celebratory vigor in Alexander Volkanovski's voice on Saturday following his thrilling featherweight title defense over Brian Ortega at UFC 266 when he grabbed the microphone during the post-fight interview and implored the remaining MMA fans who were holding out to finally put some respect upon his name.  

The reality is both supporters and critics alike should've already been high on Volkanovski (23-1), the 32-year-old native of Australia, even before the second defense of his 145-pound title this past weekend in Las Vegas. Volkanovski entered unbeaten in the UFC including wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway (twice).  

But Volkanovski also had two strikes against him from some in the court of casual public opinion, in that: 1) his biggest win to date in his rematch with Holloway was disputed and 2) Ortega's pre-fight trash talk that Volkanovski was a "decision fighter" echoed what many believed that he's a technical magician whose style is built upon avoiding two-way conflict rather than walking into it.  

Again, no one ever said public criticism, particularly what is peddled on social media, is either fair or accurate. Yet Volkanovski certainly benefited from not only taking part in an exciting thriller for once but for largely dominating it as he set the pace and delivered the majority of the damage in a wide decision win.

Of course, the final scorecards were anything but indicative of what Volkanovski was forced to endure in order to get there and that's why this performance against such a determined opponent who is capable of scoring dramatic finishes was so impressive. Volkanovski was dropped in Round 3 and twice worked free from deep chokes before doing the same once more in a similarly precarious position the following round.  

Volkanovski's preparation from a game-planning standpoint was already second to none yet this time he showed off his insane cardio, paired with a championship level poise to calmly work free from the type of positions where any level of panic would bring doom.  

This victory was the perfect summation of everything Volkanovski brings to the table as a dominant champion whose resume is slowly creeping toward historical relevance. It was also good enough to cement him in the conversation among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport today.

For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings, click here.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

Dropped out: None

Just missed: Brandon Moreno, Justin Gaethje, Petr Yan, Aljamain Sterling, TJ Dillashaw

Women's pound-for-pound rankings

Dropped out: None

Just missed: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade, Germaine de Randamie, Holly Holm, Aspen Ladd