Reigning UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski has made it abundantly clear that he wants to move up to the 155-pound division and make a run for the lightweight title, an opportunity that could come much sooner than expected.
That’s assuming Charles Oliveira or Islam Makhachev are unable to answer the call for UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi. The top two lightweight contenders are scheduled to hook ‘em up for the vacant lightweight strap in the five-round pay-per-view (PPV) headliner.
“So if I’m fit enough, do I stand by and be ready (for UFC 280) just in case someone gets injured, which I’ve got a feeling someone will?” Volkanovski asked The Daily Telegraph. “Go and stand by so nobody can take that opportunity away from me? That’s the type of guy I am. So we’ll see if it’s doable and I might be making that trip to Abu Dhabi because that’s who I am. Take away anything that can get in my way.”
That will require his injured hand to make a full recovery before the Oct. 22 headliner. Volkanovski, 33, broke his hand (again) during his most recent title defense against former featherweight champion Max Holloway at UFC 276 in Las Vegas.
“I trained this morning,” Volkanosvki continued. “I was doing kickboxing this morning, without using [my left] hand, obviously. But I was kicking, punching with the right hand. I did strength at the start of the week. Six weeks from now I’ll be able to grapple. Twelve weeks from when the injury happened, I’ll be full contact. It will be properly healed. Like the rest of my bones if not stronger because of the screws.”
If Volkanovski is not needed for the UFC 280 main event in October he’ll likely remain atop a (very) short list of lightweight title contenders, unless the promotion sends him back down to 145 pounds to make another title defense against this resurgent contender.