UFC lightweight champion Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) handed Volkanovski his first octagon loss when he edged him out in a five-round battle at UFC 284 in February. This past Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, featherweight champion Volkanovski returned to his weight class and retained his title with a third-round TKO of Yair Rodriguez in the main event.
Volkanovski (26-2 MMA, 13-1 UFC) is set to undergo a procedure on his elbow, but expects to be ready by Makhachev’s date of return at UFC 294 on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi. Makhachev’s head coach Mendez was very impressed with Volkanovski’s performance against Rodriguez.
“It was one of those fights where Alex proved how great he is by what he did,” Mendez said on his podcast. “He adjusted. He did something he normally doesn’t do. He was again outstruck on the range fighting, so he changed the script to being the wrestler, and he could wrestle, and he proved he could wrestle, also. So he took Yair down and he thoroughly dominated him on the ground.
“It wasn’t until he hit him with the right hand and then he pounced on him … he went boom, boom, dumped him. That was a beautiful display of a guy that’s super smart, great IQ. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see if they give him to Islam or they give someone else to Islam. But somewhere down the line, we’re going to have to fight him again. I look forward to it because it’ll be a great fight, definitely after that performance.”
Another potential rematch that awaits Makhachev is against Charles Oliveira, who rebounded from his title loss to Makhachev with a first-round TKO of Beneil Dariush at UFC 289 in May. Oliveira said he can’t make Oct. 21 to run things back with Makhachev, but Mendez says he doesn’t get to call the shots.
“Oliveira is talking about how he wants to fight in November or December,” Mendez said. “Well, he’s not going to get to decide when he fights for the title. The UFC decides that. I believe that Islam’s scheduled on Oct. 21 because they need him for Abu Dhabi. I believe that’s 100 percent the fight that makes sense for Islam to stay there. Who the opponent is? I don’t know. And it could be Oliveira still. Oliveira could say, ‘Never mind, I’ll fight him in Abu Dhabi.’ I don’t know.”
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