The UFC lightweight title rematch between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski is going to happen a little sooner than we thought.
It was confirmed late on Tuesday by UFC CEO Dana White that injury has forced former champion Charles Oliveira out of his scheduled UFC 294 main event against lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev, and that featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski has agreed to step in on short notice to fill the gap. The fight will be a rematch of their first meeting in Perth, Australia earlier this year in which Makhachev won by a close but unanimous decision.
“Round five of sparring last night before he’s supposed to jump on a plane today, [Oliveira] splits his eyebrow wide open,” White told Oscar Willis of The Mac Life following Tuesday night’s Contender Series card in Las Vegas. “He had it stitched up last night. He obviously can’t fly out there with that, you know what I mean? They didn’t call us — we would have had him go to a plastic surgeon that would have sewed it from the inside out, get that thing done the right way. These guys never call us like they should when something happens, they call us after they get it stitched up.
Charles Oliveira just shared images of the cut that forced him out of UFC 294 👀 pic.twitter.com/lya4gnTaGf
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) October 11, 2023
“But on the flipside, I can see him not wanting to risk it, getting a shot like this. The Volkanovski crew, him and Israel [Adesanya], they’re absolute studs. He jumps in, and he accepts the fight.”
As White notes, Oliveira’s loss is Volkanovski’s gain. The Australian fighter came very close to claiming victory over reigning champion Makhachev in their February bout, and has competed once since then — a comprehensive third-round TKO win against Yair Rodriguez in July in defence of his 145-pounds title.
The late development also puts in jeopardy a proposed bout between Volkanovski and top featherweight contender Ilia Topuria which White said had been targeted to take place over the next few months.