The lightweight championship rematch at UFC 294 will be different than first scheduled. Charles Oliveira, the former champion who was due to meet Islam Makhachev to recover the belt he lost nearly a year ago, has been ruled out. In comes UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who will fight Makhachev for his championship one more and attempt to avenge his sole loss in the UFC.
UFC president Dana White confirmed the situation, explaining that Oliveira had suffered a gash in his brow that would have rendered continuing impossible. He also didn’t appear pleased that Oliveira’s staff handled his sutures rather than the promotion and its own medical team.
“Some of you already know that I’m out of the upcoming UFC Abu Dhabi card,” Oliveira stated. “In my final training in Brazil before traveling, I clashed heads in training and suffered a deep cut that needed eight or nine stitches, something like that, I don’t know for sure. It’s a cut too deep to be able to fight, to recover in such a short time and be able to put on a great fight.”
Oliveira stated that the decision to withdraw from the UFC 294 main event was decided by his camp and the UFC brass in order for him to “be 100 percent ready for the next one.” It’s uncertain whether Oliveira will be granted another crack at the belt once he recovers from his injury.
The UFC made the announcement Tuesday night, less than two weeks before the event’s scheduled date of Oct. 21.
The Australian featherweight champion has received great acclaim for taking on lightweight contender Islam Makhachev less than a month before UFC 294.
It will be Volkanovski’s second attempt at defeating the lightweight king and becoming a double champion, but with far less preparation than he had before their extremely tight first bout, which Makhachev won.
When he fought Islam Makhachev for the lightweight belt, Alexander Volkanovski aimed to make history by being the first fighter to hold two UFC crowns at the same time.
It was a thrilling back-and-forth battle that saw Makhachev successfully defend his championship for the first time after a contentious unanimous decision. Both combatants received post-fight bonuses for Fight of the Night, and the battle is widely recognised as one of the finest MMA fights of the year.
Oliveira, no stranger to overcoming hardship, demonstrated that he was still one of the finest lightweights in the world when he ripped through Beneil Dariush at UFC 289, ending Dariush’s eight-fight win streak.
While it is reasonable to anticipate that the victor in Abu Dhabi would fight Oliveira next, things become more tricky if Volkanovski wins a second belt. This raises the potential to a trilogy, a Volkanovski-Oliveira bout, or even a Justin Gaethje situation.