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UFC 294’s Alexander Volkanovski questions Islam Makhachev’s mettle: ‘If roles reversed, fight’s not happening’

“The Great” doesn’t believe the reigning Lightweight champion would step in last-minute to fight a tough opponent like he has at UFC 294.

Alexander Volkanovski is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to fight Lightweight kingpin, Islam Makhachev, this weekend (Sat., Oct. 21, 2023) on just 12 days notice. And the Featherweight roost-ruler is feeling fresh and eager to take what he learned from their first fight earlier this year (watch highlights) to win the rematch.

During UFC 294 media day interviews (watch it here), Volkanovski explained his mentality coming into the surprise Lightweight title fight, which came together after Charles Oliveira suffered a bad cut in training.

“High risk, high reward, that’s how I look at it,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been busting my ass for the last twelve years, eleven or twelve years, however long it was, literally so I can be the guy that can do things like, do some history making stuff and really have a legacy that people will be talking about for a very long time.”

Stepping in on two weeks notice is insane, but some fans have been shrugging off Volkanovski’s decision as a “win-win” no matter what happens in the cage.

“The Great” dismissed that talk.

“This whole ‘nothing to lose’ thing is silly,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of pressure on Islam and yeah, I understand that. But I have to take this rematch that I want so bad, it’s a lightweight title, you talk about legacy. If I was to lose, my legacy takes a big hit. I don’t get another shot at him, I don’t get another shot probably at the lightweight title. How much longer do I have? We don’t know these things, so there’s definitely still a lot to lose for me.

“There’s no pressure on me, I’m not letting there be any pressure,” he continued. “But, there’s still a lot to lose.

“I don’t want people to act like me doing this is a no-brainer,” he added. “I guarantee you there’s not many fighters that are gonna do this. And you heard Islam say ‘No excuses’ and things like this. One thing I want to say is 100% if the roles were reversed, this fight is not happening. I don’t care what anyone says. He’s not fighting on twelve days notice. So he needs to remember that.”

If Volkanovski wins, he’ll become the latest UFC “champ-champ.” But, that’s not good enough for him. Most past double champions have been forced to relinquish a title. He wants to be a defending “champ-champ.

“I’ve come here to fight for every light and featherweight fight for the last year,” he said. “I’ve been here ready to fight, not only did I fight in most of them, and I will fight in most, I missed out on one but I still turned up there to make weight. So there you go. I have been, for the last five or six light / featherweight fights, I have been there for every single one. Try and tell me that I can’t keep two divisions busy.”

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 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.

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