When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush for the UFC 289 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, it seemed fairly reasonable to think the winner would be moving forward to battle Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title later this year in Abu Dhabi (more on the champ’s return right here).
Then Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje got booked for the “BMF” belt atop the UFC 291 PPV card in July, casting a long shadow over Oliveira vs. Dariush, perhaps more so for Dariush since Oliveira has already defeated Poirier and Gaethje by submission. Now Alexander Volkanovski wants to throw his name into the 155-pound hat.
“It’s going to be a very close fight, I can’t wait. Pretty even, I’m 50-50 on it,” Volkanovski said on YouTube (transcribed by Josh Evanoff). “I’m leaning towards Beneil but 50-50 and the betting odds probably favor Charles. That’s why I’m maybe leaning towards him for the pick, and Beneil for the win. It’s a close one, tough one to call. Make sure you tune into that co-main event. Let’s see what’s next for the winner of that fight, because you know I still want that lightweight title. It’s something that’s definitely there, it’s just the timing. Whatever the best timing is, you know I’m up for [it].”
Volkanovski currently holds the featherweight title and tried to join the “champ champ” club against Makhachev at UFC 284 earlier this year in Perth, falling by way of decision. The fight was entertaining enough (and close enough) to justify a rematch, but not at the expense of more deserving contenders in the lightweight division.
The Aussie also has to settle his own affairs against featherweight striker Yair Rodriguez in the UFC 290 PPV headliner during International Fight Week in Las Vegas, so any talk of future fights will be on hold until “The Great” proves himself against “Pantera.” Regardless, matchmakers have some tough choices to make over the next few weeks.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 289 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early “Prelims” matches at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, followed by the remaining “Prelims” undercard balance at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, before the final PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 289: “Nunes vs. Aldana” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 289 fight card and PPV lineup click here.