It’s official: Alexander Volkanovski will step into Charles Oliveira’s spot on two week’s notice to take on Islam Makhachev for the Lightweight title at UFC 294.
Rumors swirled on Tuesday night (Oct. 10, 2023) that Oliveira had been injured and “The Great” had been offered his spot. Now, everything is confirmed. “Do Bronx” suffered a bad cut above his eye during a sparring session that has taken him off the Oct. 21, 2023, card in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (see it here). Volkanovski will get a much sought after rematch against Makhachev after an extremely competitive war at UFC 284 earlier this year.
“Yes, all of that is true,” White said before outlining what happened to Oliveira. “He, uh, round five of sparring last night before he was supposed to jump on a plane today, splits his eyebrow wide open and had it stitched up last night. Obviously, can’t fly out there with that. It would be one thing too if we — they didn’t call us. We’d have had him go to a plastic surgeon that would have sewed it from the inside out and get that thing done the right way.
“These guys never call us like they should when something happens,” White continued. “They call us after they get stitched up. But, on the flip side, too, I can see not wanting to risk it, getting a shot like this and then, y’know.”
Having his eye explode on the first punch? Yeah, I thought we learned our lesson about having fighters show up injured for title fights after the T.J. Dillashaw incident in Abu Dhabi last year. But, here’s White suggesting he’d have sent “Do Bronx” in two weeks after suffering a massive cut above his eye, if he’d been able to get away with it.
So ... some negative vibes being sent Oliveira’s direction. And fair enough, there’s some things to be said about sparring too hard so close to a major fight, and those things aren’t all positive and nice. As for Volkanovski?
Here are photos of Charles Oliveira's cut that forced him to withdraw from UFC 294 that he posted on his Instagram.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) October 11, 2023
He stated that it was the result of a clash of heads during his sparring session. pic.twitter.com/AVbLp5gSDw
“The Volkanovski crew, him and Israel [Adesanya], just absolute studs, man,” White said. “He jumps in and he accepts the fight. One phone call.”
White rolled through the major switch up for UFC 294 without seeming too angry ... right up until he discussed how fight cancelation talk hit the Internet before he was able to talk to his partners in Abu Dhabi about the change.
“I would have announced it hours ago, except I was waiting for the guys in Abu Dhabi to wake up to let them know before we reported it,” he said tersely. “But, these guys that surround these guys down in Brazil can’t keep their f—ing mouths shut. This came out, Oliveira’s canceled, apparently, and it’s just f—ing part of the business.
“I would have liked to talk to the powers that be in Abu Dhabi before it got announced, but people can’t keep their f—ing mouths shut for whatever reason,” White continued. “They wanna act like they’re in the know and make these phone calls. So ... yeah.”
We’ll keep you informed of all the fast-moving changes to UFC 294. For now, let us know what you think of Alexander “The Great” stepping in on such short notice to fight Islam Makhachev.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 294 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 294: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.