UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-2) is a different breed. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, everyone knows at this point that the featherweight champion is stepping in on less than two weeks notice to headline UFC 294 this upcoming weekend against lightweight champ Islam Makhachev (24-1).
The two men fought back in February for the lightweight title. Makhachev was the massive favorite in their first fight with many thinking the size disadvantage would be too much for Volkanovski to overcome. However, Volkanovski put on the performance of his career and lost a razor close decision.
Had the fight been judged under Pride rules and not UFC rules where the fight is judged as a whole and not round-by-round, Volkanovski would’ve walked away the lightweight champion. He dropped and completely dominated the lightweight champion in the fifth round of their title fight.
Following that title fight, Volkanovski finished Yair Rodriguez in his return to featherweight back in July to unify the featherweight championship once again. Ahead of taking this short notice fight against Makhachev, the promotion had been talking to the champion about fighting Ilia Topuria (14-0) in the headliner of UFC 297 in January. With taking this fight this weekend, most thought that fight was off the table. However, Volkanovski still plans on making the walk in January.
UFC 294 and 297 headliner?
Ahead of this weekend’s fight, Volkanovski appeared today on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour. In the interview, Volkanovski revealed that he fully plans on defending his title against Ilia Topuria in January at UFC 297. He also said that he plans on finishing Makhachev in their fight.
However, win, lose, or draw, Volkanovski plans on making that walk in January. There are some fighters in the UFC who claim to be about it, yet most wouldn’t be willing to take on a fight like this and still plan to fight in January. However, it appears that Volkanovski is just cut from a different cloth.
If he pulls off the upset this weekend, his potential title defense in January becomes an even bigger fight against Topuria. If he’s able to win both fights, you can imagine that UFC 300 would potentially be in play for his first lightweight title defense. Perhaps a trilogy with Islam Makhachev. Of course, he actually has to win this weekend which he’s not favored to do, but what a story this can become.