Alex Volkanovski will take on Islam Makhachev for the lightweight championship in a surprise last-minute call up to UFC 294.
The Aussie has stepped in on 11 days notice to rematch Makhachev after Charles Oliveira withdrew due to injury.
Volkanovski will now get the chance to avenge his narrow decision loss at the hands of the Dagestani in Perth at UFC 284 earlier this year.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL ????
— UFC (@ufc) October 11, 2023
UFC boss Dana White revealed all it took was “one phone call” for the featherweight champion to accept the fight.
“And then the Volkanovski crew, him and Israel [Adesanya], these guys are just absolute studs, man,” White said.
“He jumps in and he accepts the fight.”
Why did Charles Oliveira pull out of UFC 294?
Rumours began circulating late on Tuesday (ET) that the Brazilian had picked up an injury, with the UFC later confirming the news of Oliveira’s withdrawal.
White reported the 33-year-old had suffered a split eyebrow in sparring and wouldn’t be able to compete.
The company president suggested had Oliveira’s team reported the issue earlier, he may still have been able to fight.
“They didn’t call us. We would have had them go to a plastic surgeon that would have sewed it from the inside out, get that thing done the right way,” White said.
“These guys never call us like they should when something happens.
“They call us after they get it stitched up.”
It’s the second fight Oliveira has pulled out this year after his bout with Beneil Dariush was moved from UFC 288 to UFC 289 due to an undisclosed injury.
Alex Volkanovski last fight
Volkanovski last fought at UFC 290 in July, scoring a dominant third-round stoppage victory over Yair Rodriguez in front of a raucous home crowd in Sydney.
Following that win, Volkanovski revealed he’d be heading in for minor surgery to clear out a bone chip in his elbow.
It was thought that may keep the 35-year-old out until the new year, with a featherweight title defence against Ilia Topuria reported to be in the works, however the opportunity to have another crack at Makhachev clearly proved too good to pass up.
What happened when Alex Volkanovski fought Islam Makhachev?
Last time they met in February, Makhachev won the fight by unanimous decision, although Volkanovski finished the bout on top, raining down some vicious ground and pound having earlier dropped the 31-year-old.
While he didn’t get his hand raised, Volkanovski showed he could handle Makhachev’s grappling and has repeatedly said he’d be confident of success in a rematch.
“That [mentality] is something that I’ve always had and there’s obviously techniques and things that we’re going to do, but it’s mainly my style and what I’m all about that is always going to make it okay, for me to fight Islam. That’s why next time he’s in for a real fight,” Volkanovski told Sporting News.
Having ruled over the 145-pound division since late 2019, Volkanovski will now get his second shot at becoming a two-division UFC champion.
UFC 294 fight card
- Islam Makhachev vs. Alex Volkanovski for UFC lightweight championship
- Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev; middleweight
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker; light heavyweight
- Nassourdine Imavov vs. Ikram Aliskerov; middleweight
- Said Nurmagomedov vs. Muin Gafurov; bantamweight
- Tim Elliott vs. Muhammad Mokaev; flyweight
- Mohammad Yahya vs. Trevor Peek; lightweight
- Javid Basharat vs. Victor Henry; bantamweight
- Abu Azaitar vs. Sedriques Dumas; middleweight
- Mike Breeden vs. Anshul Jubli; lightweight
- Nathaniel Wood vs. Muhammad Naimov; featherweight
- Viktoriia Dudakova vs. Jinh Yu Frey; women’s strawweight
- Shara Magomedov vs. Bruno Silva; middleweight