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Alexander Volkanovski in no rush for Yair Rodriguez unification bout: ‘He can hold that flag until I’m there’

Alexander Volkanovski feels he has unfinished business with Islam Makhachev after UFC 284 this past weekend (Feb. 11, 2023).

The pair of champions treated the world to a spectacular clash as expected. Ultimately, the judges saw it as Lightweight champion, Makhachev’s, night, scoring the bout in his favor via a unanimous decision (watch highlights). Fans and fighters alike within the community were pretty surprised at the result thanks to the fight’s competitive nature. For “The Great” Featherweight kingpin, Volkanovski, believed he had done enough.

It seems all too likely that Volkanovski will return to 145 pounds to defend against the UFC 284 co-main event winner and new divisional interim champion, Yair Rodriguez. However, Volkanovski sees the interim crown as the perfect reason to stick around for a Makhachev rematch.

“What’s the point of the interim anyway then?” Volkanovski told The MMA Hour. “Isn’t the interim — obviously, I’m the champ and I did do this Lightweight thing, that’s why we’re doing the interim as well, right? Because we don’t want to hold divisions up so then he’s (Rodriguez) gonna be the guy looking after that while I’m going up and all this type of stuff.

“I don’t feel like — he can hold that flag until I’m there. If I need to settle this beef [with Makhachev]. I need to talk to the team and see what’s next. Whatever decision we make is gonna be more than okay. There’s no reason why this has to happen right now, especially when that’s just not how interim works. Otherwise, I would have just made him fight for the No. 1 contender or whatever. They wouldn’t have to put an interim up for grabs.”

Rodriguez put on a show with his performance opposite a fellow top Featherweight, Josh Emmett, scoring the victory with a second-round triangle choke submission (watch highlights). Assuming Volkanovski does stay up at 155 pounds for at least one more fight, the winner of the upcoming Max Holloway versus Arnold Allen fight could see themselves paired against “El Pantera.”


For complete UFC 284: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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