Virtually every combat sports fan has been demanding a rematch between Australia’s reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev since the latter’s “controversial” unanimous decision victory at UFC 284.
The divisive outcome of the Perth card’s headlining bout had everyone from fellow professional fighters to seasoned MMA pundit Joe Rogan scratching their heads, with the debate touching on issues surrounding:
- the merits of control time (which Makhachev recorded more of)…
- … versus the merits of damage (which Volkanovski definitely inflicted more) on the judges’ scorecards
Next week, our wish will be granted when the Aussie GOAT steps in to replace an injured Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 (Abu Dhabi). And on 11 days notice, no less. There, the Windang native will have another chance to capture the lightweight belt in a bid to become one of few two-division UFC champions.
So how does The Great plan on dismantling his formidable Dagestani rival — and de facto successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov — in their hotly anticipated second encounter?
“What is it? Sprawl and brawl. So it’s pretty obvious it’s gonna be that,” Alexander Volkanovski exclusively told BH during Sydney’s Foxtel x UFC announcement event back in July.
“Look, you might even see more wrestling. I think I can take him out there as well. That just shows you how well-rounded I am. I believe I’ve got a lot more tools and ways of winning this time. Especially with the confidence.”
“I know he can’t break me, and I know he can’t hold me down. And I know I don’t need to worry about that. So now he needs to worry about these [raises both fists.].”
At the time, Volkanovski had just recorded yet another dominant title defence at UFC 290 (International Fight Week). On this occasion, the victim had been interim featherweight champ Yair Rodriquez — who, incidentally, claimed the honour at Perth’s UFC 284.
President & CEO Dana White essentially gave Volk carte blanche for his next fight immediately after (“Whatever he wants to do, we go with it.”).
Volkanovski continued: “I do want that Islam fight, but I don’t want to wait for it. If they’re like, ‘Yeah you can do it but you’re gonna have to wait till this time.’ I’m like, ‘Well give me something else.’ Which I’m sure [the UFC] appreciate and love.”
“For [Dana White] to say that, he doesn’t really say that to many people, so that is a comment that I really appreciate. It shows that my hard work is being appreciated. So it’s a good position to be in but for me, I just want to be active.”
Now, it’s actually going down: a rematch against Islam Makhachev as promised and, considering Alexander Volkanovski not only fought but underwent elbow surgery months ago, major activity. Albeit far sooner than anybody (Volk included) had expected.
Since yesterday’s bombshell announcement that UFC 294 would be headlined by Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski II, the co-main event has also been changed.
In place of Paulo Costa, who hasn’t been medically cleared in time after his own elbow surgery, former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is moving up to the middleweight division where he’ll face the undefeated Khamzat Chimaev.
How bloody good.
UFC 294 Main Card (Abu Dhabi)
- Islam Makhachev [C] vs Alexander Volkanovski — Lightweight Championship Bout
- Kamaru Usman vs Khamzat Chimaev — Middleweight Bout
- Magomed Ankalaev vs Johhny Walker — Light Heavyweight Bout
- Nassourdine Imavov vs Ikram Aliskerov — Middleweight Bout
- Said Nurmagomedov vs Muin Gafurov — Bantamweight Bout
UFC 294: Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski II is scheduled to go down on October 22nd, 2023 at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena (United Arab Emirates). The main event kicks off at — brace yourselves — 5 AM [AEST].
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