The last couple weeks have been chaos for the UFC and their planned high profile UFC 294 PPV in Saudi Arabia. First reports surfaced that headliner Charles Oliveira had been injured in training and would need to be pulled from his title fight with Islam Makhachev. Shortly on the heels of that news, word broke that Paulo Costa’s recent surgery had left him battling an infection in his elbow and that he would be out of his co-main fight against Khamzat Chimaev as well.
In a surprise move, former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman decided to make the jump up to 185 lbs to take on ‘Borz’ and save the co-main. And current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski leapt at the opportunity to rematch Makhachev in the main event.
“I didn’t hesitate at all,” Volkanovski told the assembled media at a UFC 294 press event (transcript via MMA Fighting). “There was probably a smile on my face straightaway and it was, ‘Oh, we’re going to do it,’ let the manager do his part with negotiations. He’s asking about the weight, ‘We’ll get it done, don’t worry about that.’ But I had a smile on my face.
“The next day, or couple of days, I literally just was laughing thinking how crazy this is, but happy at the same time. I think I needed this, to be honest.”
Volkanovski still wants Ilia Topuria in January
If that all seems like miraculously good news for the world’s largest MMA promotion given the circumstances, there was a word of caution in it as well. Shortly before news Oliveira’s withdrawal, top featherweight contender Ilia Topuria revealed that he was already in talks to fight Alexander Volkanovski in January. With the ‘Great’ now set to fight at UFC 294 this week, it seemed almost certain that the UFC 297 booking in Toronto would need to be rescheduled.
But that’s not what Volkanovski is telling reporters. Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, the 35-year-old was bullish on the idea that he would have no trouble fighting again in just a few months. To hear him tell it, this is exactly the kind of schedule he’s been aiming for.
“Yeah?” Volkanovski responded when asked if he could make the turnaround to fight Topuria. “A lot of people are saying that, I don’t see how they think that I wouldn’t do that. Well, how long is it? It’s over three months away, isn’t it?”
“November, December, January! Yeah, three months [pshhh]. That’s what I want to fight, every three months. I didn’t even have to do a camp, you know what I mean? So, I’m fresh mentally and physically going into this camp—going into this fight. So, straight after it—you know what I mean? Enjoy this crazy victory—enjoy me shocking the world—maybe for a week or two, then we get back to business.”
It’s not the fastest title fight turnaround in UFC history. Certainly, way back in the day some of the promotion’s early champs used to fight at a shocking pace compared to their modern counterparts. Heck, even Jon Jones, in his second LHW title run, beat Anthony Smith just two months after winning the vacant title over Alexander Gustafsson. But it’s still a hell of a schedule to keep. Especially when odds seem high that Volkanovski won’t be walking away from UFC 294 with his hand raised.
Sounds like Volk got paid for rescuing UFC 294
Fortunately for the Aussie, whether he wins or loses this Saturday in Abu Dhabi, he’ll likely be walking away with a smile on his face. In a recent interview uploaded to UFC Asia, Alexander Volkanovski talked about the process of getting the fight offer and deciding to take the UFC up on it—during which he also alluded to some brief negotiations.
“My manager hit me up and I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess we can,'” Volkanovski recalled, on being asked to take the fight. “I go, ‘You do your part, I’ll do mine.’ It was pretty much that easy. Obviously, we had to go back and forth. That was more on the negotiation sides. But, me taking the fight was pretty much straight away. Yeah, we did that and then they did the rest. But, yous don’t need to know that.”
Volkanovski hasn’t had a publicly disclosed UFC payday since UFC 245 back in 2019, when the now-champion picked up a reported $250,000 for his victory over Max Holloway to secure the featherweight title. Since that featherweight fight, the City Kickboxing star has competed six times, with his only loss coming against Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 back in February.
UFC 294 is set to go down at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 21st. Alongside the lightweight main event and middleweight co-main, the card will feature a light heavyweight top contender fight between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and updates.
Join the new Bloody Elbow
Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Connor Reubusch. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.
About the author