Alexander Volkanovski says he was only moments away from losing consciousness when Brian Ortega had him in a guillotine at UFC 266, telling TMZ Sports there were 2 options -- get out or go out.
... 'cause he was NEVER gonna tap.
We talked to the UFC featherweight champ following his dominating win over Brian Ortega ... and although AV won via unanimous decision, things got dicey in the 3rd round when Ortega had Volkanovski in a choke so tight that Alex's surroundings literally started to change colors.
"It was getting close where I couldn't breathe," Volkanovski says.
"It was definitely close. But, again, I was never going to stop trying to get out of it and I was never going to tap."
Then, almost out of a movie scene, Volkanovski says he imagined going home to his family without his championship belt.
"I remember I had like a moment, it was weird 'cause I was literally thinking of my family, and Iwas like man, I might not be taking this belt home to my family. You can't let it end like this."
"I literally had a moment like that, like s*** you see in the movies."
Bottom line, if you thought Alex wasn't in trouble, you're wrong ... 'cause "mate, it was deep. It was deep."
We also talked to Alex about the controversy in between the 3rd and 4th rounds ... when Volkanovski believes Ortega was incorrectly provided precious time to recover, while Herb Dean and the doctor attempted to determine if T-City was fit to continue fighting.
AV says the fight should've been stopped right there.
"[Brian] was stumbling when they were asking him to move. They definitely should've ... I didn't even realize his corner picked him up and put him on the stool, which you're not allowed to do. You hear things like that and you're like, 'I'm surprised that they didn't stop it.' But, all good."
Matter of fact, Alex says he's sorta happy the fight wasn't stopped ... because fans got a helluva 5-round fight.
So, what's next for the featherweight champ? He's got options.
Conor McGregortweetedabout Volkanovski following the fight, writing ... "Not a bad fight. Congrats shartsy"
Is Alex interested in a fight at 155 pounds with The Notorious? We asked him.
"Of course you'd want that."
In fact, Alex says because Max Holloway (#1) and Yair Rodriguez (#3) aren't fighting until the end of the year (the winner likely being his next opponent in the featherweight division) ... he's got some time to kill.
And, a big money fight with McGregor, in AV's words, "sounds like a good time."
(Worth noting, Conor broke his leg only 80 days ago, and won't be ready to fight until sometime next year.)
Then there's Henry Cejudo ... who just told us he wanted to fight Alex at 145 lbs., and become the first UFC fighter to hold belts in 3 divisions.
Unfortunately for the man on a quest to become Quadruple C, Alex says he isn't interested.
"Nah, there's no point even wasting energy with it."
"Obviously, [Henry's] gonna keep chirping and keep carrying on like he does whenever a flyweight, or a bantamweight or a featherweight, if there's ever a fight, he's got something to say, but I'll let him keep chirping in the background."