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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Farah Hannoun

Islam Makhachev not surprised Alexander Volkanovski stepped in at UFC 294: ‘He don’t put his belt, he just make money’

Islam Makhachev thinks Alexander Volkanovski has nothing to lose by stepping in on short notice at UFC 294.

Lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) was scheduled to defend his belt against Charles Oliveira next Saturday, Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi, but Oliveira was forced out due to a cut. As a result, featherweight champion Volkanovski (26-2 MMA, 13-1 UFC) will step in on short notice for his title-fight rematch.

Makhachev expected to face top contender Mateusz Gamrot, who will weigh in as a backup for the title fight. Although Volkanovski taking the fight caught many by surprise, Makhachev understands why he did it.

“I thought they will give me Gamrot, but I heard Gamrot didn’t get this fight,” Makhachev told TSN. “But when they said it’s going to be Volkanovski, it’s not a big surprise for me because this guy, what (does) he lose? He take fight on 10 days’ short notice, he will come, he don’t put his belt (on the line), he just make money. That’s it.”

Volkanovski took Makhachev to the brink in their title fight at UFC 284 in February, putting the champion in unfamiliar territory towards the end of the fight. Makhachev won the fight by unanimous decision, but many argued that Volkanovski won.

Makhachev is ready to put those doubts to rest when they run things back.

“Honestly, I’m happy because after the last fight, we have many questions,” Makhachev said on rematching Volkanovski. “But all answers are going to be in Abu Dhabi inshallah.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

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