Featherweight champion Alexander Volkov’s desire for a lightweight title fight might just come sooner than expected. At least, that’ll be the case if either Charles Oliveira or Islam Makhachev can’t make it to the main event of UFC 280 later this month in Abu Dhabi.
The 34-year-old former rugby player started campaigning for his opportunity to become a two division champion way back in April, following his TKO win over Chan Sung Jung at UFC 273.
“I want this title fight. I called for it because I think I earned it. We’re seeing guys get the chance at a second title for much less than what I’ve done,” Volkanovski explained in an interview at the time, adding that he wouldn’t go up to lightweight for anything less than a title shot.
In a vlog uploaded to his YouTube channel on Monday, October 10th, ‘The Great’ confirmed that his cross-divisional hopes have come to fruition. It seems, even if Oliveira vs. Makhachev goes ahead as planned, fans can expect to see Volkanovski battling for a second belt sometime in the near future.
“Yeah, we’re locked in as a backup fighter [for Oliveira vs. Makhachev at UFC 280]. You know, I’ve been calling for it, I said I want it. Just had to make sure the hand was all good,” Volkanovski explained.
“So we are good, we’re locked in. We’ve got the clearance to fight. The UFC’s on board, everyone’s on board, so I’ll be at UFC 280 to make weight. And yeah, looking forward to it. Let’s see what happens. If someone doesn’t make it, I’m here to save the day. If not? At least I’m locked in as the next guy to fight for that lightweight title, and that’s that.”
Interestingly, title challenger Islam Makhachev seems to already be prepared to take on a substitute opponent. Teammate, mentor and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov teased the idea back in September that Oliveira wouldn’t make it to the bout. At the time, however, it seems he was expecting top contender Beneil Dariush to be in the backup role, as he’s already set to fight former KSW champ Mateusz Gamrot further down the card.
“I just think Charles Oliveira will not show up in Abu Dhabi and the UFC will replace Charles with Beneil Dariush,” Khabib wrote in a post on social media. “Regardless of who the opponent will be, [Islam Makhachev] is on his way to becoming the best in the world.”
All this speculation and planning came about after Oliveira failed to make weight for his UFC title defense against Justin Gaethje back in May of this year. While ‘Do Bronx’ still won the fight by first round submission, he was stripped of his title as a result of his inability to make it down to 155 lbs. The problem appeared to stem from a miscalibrated scale that caused several fighters issues that fight week. However, given Oliveira’s long history of weigh-in troubles it’s no surprise that team Makhachev has remained skeptical.
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