In a quest to solidify his status as one of the UFC's elite fighters, Alexander Volkanovski has set his sights on a year-end rematch with lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev. Despite falling short in their previous encounter, Volkanovski's unwavering determination to become a double champion has him eager to step back into the octagon with Makhachev.
With the UFC's return to Fight Island approaching, the outcome of key matchups in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions may hold the key to Volkanovski's championship aspirations.
After a relatively quiet run in 2020 and 2021, Volkanovski promised to become more active in the UFC featherweight division. True to his word, the Australian fighter delivered two remarkable performances in 2022, defeating notable opponents such as "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung and Max Holloway. However, his most recent challenge saw him move up a weight class to take on the newly crowned lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, at UFC 284.
The battle between Volkanovski and Makhachev at UFC 284 was nothing short of an instant classic. The two champions showcased their exceptional skills and left fans divided over who deserved the victory. Ultimately, Makhachev emerged victorious by unanimous decision, leaving Volkanovski determined to secure a rematch and prove his worth.
With Makhachev's expected next fight scheduled for UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi on October 21, Volkanovski had to find a way to stay busy in the meantime. Meanwhile, the UFC crowned an interim featherweight champion, Yair Rodriguez, on the same night as Volkanovski's clash with Makhachev. This interim title sets the stage for a unification bout between Rodriguez and Volkanovski at UFC 290 on July 8.
“I wanted to be active. I told you that,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “I was asked after the fight [with Makhachev], do I want to wait around for the rematch, do I want to fight at featherweight, what do I wanna do? I don’t want to wait around. They said, ‘Do you want to wait around and the only thing is if you wait for that fight, that might not be until the end of the year.’ We don’t know when that fight is happening but it’s not looking like it’s gonna be anytime soon.
“I ain’t waiting. I’d rather fight featherweight than do the rematch sometime at the end of the year, whenever it is. Whenever that fight can happen, that fight’s always gonna be there. I want to stay active and I told you I wanted to stay active and I wasn’t lying. This is proof of that.”
Volkanovski understands that his path to redemption lies in overcoming the best contenders in his division. Before his potential rematch with Makhachev, top lightweight fighters Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush will battle it out for the chance to face the reigning champion. The outcome of this fight, as well as Volkanovski's clash with Rodriguez, may ultimately determine the UFC's plans for a Makhachev vs. Volkanovski rematch.
MMA fans can expect an exhilarating end to the year as the pieces fall into place for a highly anticipated rematch between Volkanovski and Makhachev. Stay tuned for more information.