Alexander Volkanovski says ‘all the pressure’ is on Islam Makhachev

Alexander Volkanovski is getting his shot at redemption.

It might not be coming as anyone expected but UFC 294 plays host to the big champion vs. champion rematch between lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and featherweight champion Volkanovski. The pair first went toe-to-toe in February at UFC 284 in Sydney and will now do battle closer to Makhachev’s home in Abu Dhabi.

Former lightweight titleholder Charles Oliveira was originally supposed to be the one rematching Makhachev. Oliveira suffered defeat a year ago opposite Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, coming up short via a second-round arm-triangle choke. Unfortunately for “Do Bronx,” he suffered a laceration over his eye in training, forcing him out of next weekend’s main event.

“We were told about Charles pulling out and needing a backup,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “They hit me up yesterday, we said, obviously, alright, let’s do it. Obviously, did the negotiations, they did that, I just said, ‘Yeah. Make sure it’s worth it (laughs),’ and let’s do it.

“This is obviously a pretty crazy thing to do. There’s not many fighters out there who probably would do this, especially in my position, but I always say that I will do these things, I am that guy that will do any time, anywhere, any weight, whatever it is. This is just an opportunity to prove that once again.”

Volkanovski, 35, has made it a goal to be an active champion since capturing gold in December 2019. In his first attempt at becoming a dual-division champion, Volkanovski lost his first fight in 22 times out (26-2 overall). Makhachev earned the nod via unanimous decision in a closely contest affair.

“The Great” knows now better than ever how tough and game of an opponent that Makhachev is and despite his strong performance in the first fight, he’s still expecting to be counted out thanks to the short notice nature of the rematch. Volkanovski is currently at +205 as the underdog to Makhachev’s -250 favorite, per BetOnline.ag.