It appears there is a backup fighter for the UFC 280 main event matchup between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. However, it’s not clear who that fighter is.
About a month ago, Beneil Dariush, who is the No. 6 fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings, told MMA Fighting that his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told him he would serve as the backup for the Oliveira vs. Makhachev scrap. The Oliveira vs. Makhachev contest is for the vacant UFC lightweight title.
Earlier this week, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski made an interesting claim when he said he was “locked in” as the backup for the fight.
Volkanovski’s assertion left Dariush scratching his head. Dariush, who is booked to fight Mateusz Gamrot on the UFC 280 card, said the UFC booked him on the October 22 event as a failsafe.
“That’s the whole point of having another lightweight fight on that card, just in case something goes wrong,” Dariush said. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, but ultimately I have one goal and that’s Gamrot. I really thought I was the fill in. That’s what I was told.”
On Wednesday, Volkanovski said on The MMA Hour that no games were being played. The UFC 145-pound champ then offered more detail on why he feels he — and not Dariush — is the real backup plan for the UFC 280 main event.
“Maybe they did tell you you could be very early, whether this was a couple of months ago, whether his manager had that conversation saying that you will be, and he just assumed he was and hasn’t looked into it since, I don’t know,” said Volkanovski. “But my corners are being flown up. I’m getting paid for this, all that type of stuff. It’s locked in. I’m not playing any games.”
An easy way to end this back-and-forth would be for one of the fighters to produce a written and signed contract.
UFC 280 takes place on October 22. The ESPN+ streaming pay-per-view card takes place at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
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