Alexander Volkanovski Replaces Charles Oliveira to Face Islam Makhachev at UFC 294
A modification to the main event of UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi has been confirmed by UFC CEO Dana White. Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will now face featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski after Charles Oliveira was forced to withdraw from their planned rematch. A rematch of Makhachev and Volkanovski's thrilling battle from February at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia, where Makhachev defeated "The Great" by unanimous decision, will be the main event.
At the UFC's first event in Australia since October 2019, the enthusiastic Australian fans enthusiastically cheered on their fellow countryman during the back-and-forth contest between Makhachev and Volkanovski. While Makhachev was able to successfully defend his title, others thought Volkanovski had done enough to take home the double championship that evening. Following the bout, the two winners exchanged pleasantries, and Volkanovski began to yearn for a rematch, even expressing his desire to take on Makhachev in Abu Dhabi.
A few months later, at UFC 290's conclusion of International Fight Week, Volkanovski made a comeback to the featherweight class, where he faced off against interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez to defend his 145-pound title. However, Makhachev hasn't participated in a fight since their first encounter. Makhachev intended to duplicate his success at UFC 280, where he submitted Oliveira in the second round to capture the lightweight title his mentor and close friend Khabib Nurmagomedov once held. Makhachev was the main attraction of the UFC's pay-per-view in Abu Dhabi for the second year in a row.
Oliveira, on the other hand, is naturally disappointed. "Do Bronx" stated that he underperformed because he was too engrossed in the drama of the first fight with Makhachev, especially after Oliveira was forced to renounce the title after missing weight to take out Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in Arizona.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Oliveira proved at UFC 289 that he was still among the greatest lightweights in the world when he stopped Beneil Dariush's eight-fight winning run.
Though it seems obvious that the Abu Dhabi victor will go up against Oliveira, things get a little more complicated if Volkanovski takes home a second belt. A trilogy, a Volkanovski-Oliveira match, or even a scenario featuring Justin Gaethje—who many thought deserved a title chance after his thrilling knockout victory over Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 for the BMF championship—could result from that.
Having said all of that, UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 on October 21 will be a delight for the Abu Dhabi fans.