Injuries have put the UFC in an awkward position when it comes to the featherweight division.
Earlier this month, UFC 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski put an end to any debate about if he is better than Max Holloway when he scored a definitive unanimous decision win over the ex-titleholder in their third matchup. During that bout, Volkanovski suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. That surgery is likely to keep him out of the octagon for some time. On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Volkanovski said his next fight isn’t likely to happen until the first quarter of 2023, when he said the UFC is planning a trip to Australia.
In an ideal world, Volkanovski said that he will fight for the lightweight crown on that card.
Broke my thumb in the second round, but that don’t stop us!
Having surgery today and will be out for 12 weeks. Looking forward to getting back out there, thanks to everyone for the support pic.twitter.com/XvwLd223vL
— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) July 8, 2022
On Saturday, in what was a potential featherweight title eliminator, Yair Rodriguez earned a TKO win over Brian Ortega, via a shoulder injury in the first round.
After that event, UFC Long Island, promotional boss, Dana White, said he wasn’t against Rodriguez facing Josh Emmett, who earned a split-decision win over Calvin Kattar in mid-June, in an interim title fight.
“You’re asking if [Rodriguez vs. Emmett for an interim title is] a possibility? I like it. I don’t hate it,” White said at the UFC Long Island post-fight press conference.
Volkanovski is another person who doesn’t seem to hate the idea of an interim title fight between Rodriguez and Emmett.
“But to be honest, I don’t mind the idea, while I’m sitting here… Let them fight for that No. 1 contender. I think they both deserve it. Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez are both in a position where they could get a shot. Is there screaming for them like it needs to be [one] of them? No, not really. So, let them fight for that No. 1 contender. If it’s for the interim belt then we’ll fight. Sweet. Cause I’m not lying when I said I want to be active.”
“The perfect (thing) for me, lightweight title early next year and then if they do this interim thing, if that happens, it’ll just make for a bigger fight anyway, so I don’t mind,” said Volkanovski. “Then you’ve got a clear number one guy. Everyone’s going t be screaming their name after who ever wins out of Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez.”
Volkanovski added, holding up his left hand, which is in a cast post-surgery, “If I didn’t have this, I would be like ‘this is stupid,’ but I’m like ‘why not?’ I don’t look at it any other way. At the end of the day, I am the champ.”
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