clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Islam Makhachev reacts to UFC 294 shuffle, last-minute rematch with Alexander Volkanovski: ‘No excuses!’

Checkout what Islam Makhachev had to say about the sudden switch in opponents for his upcoming title defense in Abu Dhabi.

Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, has commented on the short notice opponent switch ahead of UFC 294 that will see him rematch Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, on less than two weeks notice.

Makhachev was originally supposed to face Charles Oliveira on Oct. 21, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. However, a headbutt suffered by Oliveira in training has changed all that. Now, “Do Bronx” is out and “The Great” is in, setting up a second fight between the No. 2- and 3-ranked pound-for-pound fighters.

The talented pair originally faced off at UFC 284 in earlier this year, with Makhachev winning via decision with 48–47, 48–47 and 49–46 scorecards.

Volkanovski has been vocal in his opinion that he won their first meeting and even more adamant that he’d win a rematch. Now, he’ll have a chance to prove his words, albeit with just two weeks (and stitches) to prepare.

Makhachev is making it clear that he doesn’t want to hear any complaining about the circumstances surrounding the fight after he beats Volk for a second time.

“Respect for taking this fight on short notice Alex, but don’t use it as an excuse after the fight,” he wrote on Instagram, tagging the post #Round2.

Makhachev is deep in training for the Abu Dhabi scrap, and he has a not-so-secret weapon for the final weeks of his camp: Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has returned from a near-complete withdrawal from the mixed martial arts (MMA) world to help coach his friend. Another post from Makhachev showed Coach Khabib working hard alongside his former teammates.

We’re sure the intensity of those workouts is only going to increase now that Makhachev is fighting Volkanovski again. Following Mak’s win at UFC 284, his coach at American Kickboxing Academy, Javier Mendez, revealed that Khabib was more than a little stressed about Volkanovski leading into their first fight.

“Khabib would call me up and would say, ‘Coach I’m really worried about this fight, Volkanovski is really tough, I’m concerned for Islam a little bit on this one,’” Mendez said. “I was like, ‘I’m not, we’re gonna win this fight. I don’t know how easy or how hard, but we’re gonna win this fight. So, I know you’re worried Khabib, but I’m not worried.’

“And he goes, ‘I know, I know, coach, but we know this is a tough fight, we have to prepare for a tough fight,’” Mendez concluded.

When Nurmagomedov called Makhachev to congratulate him on the win, he said he, “aged 50 years” watching the fight.

It was that close.

“He told me he was so nervous,” Makhachev said at UFC 284’s post-fight press conference. “And he said, ‘Why are you doing this, this, this this?’ If you come too and if you were my corner, I can do this. But, you didn’t come.”

We’ll see how a Khabib-backed Makhachev does against Volkanovski in two weeks time at UFC 294.

LIVE! Watch UFC 298 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Feb. 17, 2024, for the first time in more than two years with its latest pay-per-view (PPV) show. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV main event, reigning Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski, will defend his 145-pound strap against undefeated surging Spanish contender, Ilia Topuria. In addition, former Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will finally square off with mercurial mauler, Paulo Costa, in UFC 298’s co-feature. UFC 298 will also feature the returns of Ian Garry, Geoff Neal, Henry Cejudo, Merab Dvalishvili and so much more!

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Remember that 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.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania