Mark Zuckerberg fights UFC champion Alexander Volkanovski in metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Meta, has posted an Instagram video of himself sparring with UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski ahead of UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, where Volkanovski will fight UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev on February 12.

In the video, Volkanovski and Zuckerberg wore motion capture suits usually used to generate computer-animated images in Hollywood movies. With cameras attached to their heads, they transformed into animated “avatars” of themselves as they departed from the film studio into the metaverse.

Zuckerberg seemed to be capable of keeping pace with Volkanovski. He showed good flexibility as he quickly leaped back to his feet after the featherweight champion took him down. Volkanovski also praised Zuckerberg for his attempts at roundhouse kicks.

At one point, Zuckerberg encouraged Volkanovski to go slightly harder. In response, Volkanovski shot a double-leg takedown and dropped him on his head.

The video of their sparring session on Instagram has attracted some attention from fans. They were impressed upon seeing the film studio slowly transformed into a red-colored mountain as “Down Under” by Men at Work was playing in the background.

The UFC official account also chimed in, commenting, “Metaverse has a new P4P #1.”

“Last year UFC #1 pound-for-pound fighter Alex Volkanovski stopped by Meta HQ to train with me and for fun we tested the limits of our performance avatars with motion capture in our Engage gear. Good luck this weekend Alex!” Zuckerberg’s caption reads.

While appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in August 2022, Zuckerberg said his interest in MMA was new. Last September, he also shared footage of him sparring with Taiwanese bantamweight fighter Khai “The Shadow” Wu.

Volkanovski exchanges verbal jabs with Makhachev

At the pre-fight press conference for the upcoming fight, Volkanovski was greeted by an excited crowd. However, Makhachev did not receive the same welcome reception. They later exchanged verbal jabs at each other.

Volkanovski said he would enter the octagon as an underdog, despite having a 22-fight win streak.

“I love putting myself in this position. I think people should always do that in life. If you want to be successful, challenge yourself. It’s going to make you stronger, trust me,” Volkanovski said.

Previously in a joint interview on ESPN’s DC&RC on February 7, Volkanovski wished Makhachev well and hoped he would pass the pre-fight weight cut.

“I just wanna say to you, to your face, Islam, make me one promise, and that’s make weight comfortably and healthy,” Volkanovski said.

However, during the press conference, Volkanovski claimed that Makhachev did not respect him, having heard him saying many things before the bout. To counter this narrative, Makhachev praised Volkanovski but also said that the fight would be an easy one.

“Alex is good everywhere, but I am different. I have a different style,” Makhachev said. “Like all of his opponents. Like [Chan Sung Jung], I’m not going to go crazy straight. Like [Max] Holloway, he just followed him. I have other plans, and I always follow my plans and finish my opponent.”

So far, Makhachev has won 11 consecutive fights, two of which were against Bobby Green and Dan Gooker. He previously won with a second-round submission over Brazilian fighter Charles Oliviera at UFC 280 in October 2022.