In a surprising turn of events, UFC CEO Dana White has set the stage for a colossal showdown at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will now lock horns with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, following Charles Oliveira’s unfortunate withdrawal from their highly anticipated rematch.
The headline bout between Makhachev and Volkanovski is a rematch of their monumental clash in February at UFC 284, which unfolded in Perth, Australia. It was a night to remember as Makhachev emerged victorious over “The Great” via a unanimous decision.
Their prior encounter was a nail-biting affair, witnessed by an electrified Australian crowd, who passionately rallied behind their compatriot. UFC‘s return to Australia after a long hiatus in October 2019 was nothing short of spectacular. Makhachev successfully defended his title, but the question lingered as to whether Volkanovski had done enough to secure a coveted double-champ status. Post-fight, the two champions exchanged pleasantries, and Volkanovski wasted no time expressing his desire for a rematch, even suggesting Abu Dhabi as the battleground.
A few months down the road, Volkanovski returned to the featherweight division to defend his 145-pound belt against interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290, closing out International Fight Week. Conversely, Makhachev has been out of action since their initial showdown. Headlining UFC‘s Abu Dhabi pay-per-view for the second consecutive year, Makhachev aimed to replicate his UFC 280 performance when he clinched the lightweight title by submitting Charles Oliveira in the second round, a title previously held by his mentor and close friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
For Charles Oliveira, the disappointment is palpable. “Do Bronx” was candid about his mental state during the first Makhachev fight, especially after a tumultuous period that included relinquishing his title due to a weight miss before a scintillating victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in Arizona.
Oliveira swiftly bounced back, reaffirming his position as one of the world’s top lightweights with a dominant win over Beneil Dariush at UFC 289, putting an end to Dariush’s impressive eight-fight win streak.
While it’s tempting to speculate that the winner in Abu Dhabi will be Oliveira’s next challenge, the waters get muddied if Volkanovski secures a second belt. This scenario opens the door to intriguing possibilities: a trilogy fight, a Volkanovski-Oliveira showdown, or even a scenario involving Justin Gaethje. Gaethje’s thunderous knockout victory over Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 for the BMF title left many believing he earned a shot at the title.
All things considered, fight fans in Abu Dhabi are in for a real treat at UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2, set to unfold on October 21. The octagon action promises to be nothing short of spectacular!