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Islam Makhachev casts doubt on Alexander Volkanovski ‘super’ fight in Australia: UFC is ‘playing games’

While an Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski fight in Perth may have seemed like a done deal after UFC 280, it seems like UFC isn’t so sure that’s what it wants.

UFC 280: Oliveira v Makhachev Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

After Islam Makhachev cut through Charles Oliveira with relative ease at UFC 280 (watch highlights), it seemed like 145-pound kingpin, Alexander Volkanovski, was next for the new Lightweight champion. Probably in Australia, given UFC was returning to Perth in Feb. 2023.

But, that may not be the case, according to Makhachev.

Makhachev was probably hoping his career was going to get a lot more simple now that he holds the title. Instead, he sounded pretty frustrated with UFC’s inability to seal the deal for his next title defense.

“I’m not sure what UFC wants, February Australia or March Vegas,” Makhachev wrote on Twitter. “I honestly don’t care about location and opponent, I never choose opponents. Just send a contract and stop playing games.”

Volkanovski went to some pretty extreme lengths to ensure he was next in line for a shot at the 155-pound title. He rushed rehab on an injured hand so he could serve as backup to Makhachev vs. Oliveira at UFC 280. He did a full press run hyping up his role, and his dream of becoming a double champ. And then when Makhachev won in Abu Dhabi, “The Great” climbed into the cage for a face off.

The idea that Makhachev and Volkanovski may not fight after all that is wild indeed. But, it’s worth noting that there’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to a “champion vs. champion” fight. Is Makhachev’s manager asking for more money to fight the 145-pound champ in his home country? He probably should be. And if UFC doesn’t want to pay it, maybe they just say, “Fine, you can fight Beneil Dariush in Las Vegas.”

That’s a complete hypothetical, but also completely realistic when it comes to how UFC tends to negotiate. And there’s got to be a reason Makhachev vs. Volkanovski in Australia isn’t anywhere near signed, sealed and delivered, despite all the hype.

Makhachev’s win over Oliveira advanced him to 23-1 MMA (12-1 UFC). It also propelled him up to the top of the official UFC pound-for-pound rankings. He now sits in position No. 3, with Israel Adesanya at No. 2 and Alexander Volkanovski at No. 1.

With the Lightweight belt in his posession, Makhachev has made it clear that he wants to take Volkanovski’s spot at the top of the pound-for-pound list next. Do you think that fight is going to happen next, Maniacs?

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