A major shakeup has reportedly hit UFC 294 with less than a couple of weeks to go until the event. Charles Oliveira won’t be facing Islam Makhachev in a rematch on October 21, and instead, it will be UFC Featherweight Championship Alexander Volkanovski, who will be moving up to lightweight in the hopes of becoming a two-division champion.
News about the main event change to UFC 294 first started to be reported on Tuesday evening. After the season finale of Dana White’s Contender Series aired from Las Vegas, Nevada, UFC CEO Dana White confirmed the change at a press conference. The changes are coming to a card that is scheduled to take place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
Charles Oliveira misses out on chance to regain belt
Dana White said Tuesday night that a cut on an eyebrow of Oliveira is what caused him to pull out of his fight against Makhachev.
“Do Bronx” was attempting to regain champion status at UFC 294, avenging a loss to Makhachev in the process. Oliveira notoriously lost his UFC Lightweight Championship on the scales last year, as he missed weight for his UFC 274 bout against Justin Gaethje.
A month later, Oliveira fought for the then-vacant lightweight title against Makhachev. He suffered his first loss since 2017 in that fight, getting caught in the second round with an arm triangle choke by Makhachev. He worked his way back to a title shot after stopping Beneil Dariush within a round earlier this year.
Volkanovski chases champ-champ status once again
The incredibly short-notice opportunity gives Volkanovski a second crack at Makhachev. He faced him in February earlier this year, moving up to lightweight in the main event of UFC 284. Makhachev was able to fight off the featherweight king in that encounter, picking up a unanimous decision victory after five rounds of competition.
Volkanovski has shown absolute dominance over the featherweight division since joining the UFC roster in 2016. He has held the 145-pound belt since late 2019 and has defended it a total of five times since then. The one thing that has eluded his nearly perfect career has been a belt in a second division. This opportunity will present itself once again at UFC 294, albeit under incredibly challenging circumstances.
What happens to the official UFC 294 back up?
The move to book Makhachev against Volkanovski comes just days after former KSW Champion Mateusz Gamrot was announced as an alternate for the UFC 294 main event. Gamrot, who is coming off a win over Rafael Fiziev, is expected to travel in for the Abu Dhabi pay-per-view and make the title fight weight limit in case a main event fighter falls off the lineup.
Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev also reportedly out of UFC 294
The trouble for UFC 294 might not end with the main event. White mentioned on Tuesday that the co-main event fight between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev might also be in jeopardy due to Costa recently commenting that he underwent arm surgery to treat an infected bursa. In that instance, White said that he hopes he can provide an update soon on the status of this fight.
Overdogs Podcast, which was the first to report on the main event change, now states that Costa is out, with the UFC already seeking a late replacement for Chimaev.
UPDATE: Dana White has confirmed the changed, and it will be Kamaru Usman vs. Khamzat Chimaev at the UFC 294 co-main event. The long time UFC welterweight champion will be stepping in for Paulo Costa, who wasn’t allowed to compete despite already being in Abu Dhabi.
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