Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volknovski engaged in the kind of superfight that will always be remembered, and it’s likely they will see each other again in the future. But probably not right away.
That’s according to UFC President Dana White, who praised the main event fighters from UFC 284 for putting a battle worthy of a champion vs. champion showdown that rarely happens in the promotion.
In the aftermath of the fight, Volkanovski has continuously called for an immediate rematch, arguing that he deserved the nod over Makhachev after the Russian secured a unanimous decision victory on the scorecards.
For his part, White doesn’t seem opposed to the idea, though he’s quick to hit the pause button on anything happening right away because new UFC interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez anxiously awaits Volkanovski’s return to 145 pounds.
“You know what my thoughts are on that when you make a super fight, could you possibly have a better f****** result than we did on that fight? Right?” White said at the UFC Vegas 70 post-fight press conference. “When the entire world is arguing over who won, that’s a super fight and it delivers right? The only thing that could possibly be better than that is the guy who’s fighting for the interim title comes out looking incredible, too. So, now you got Yair versus Volkanovski.
“We’ll see what happens with Islam and where he ends up fighting next. You have to do Yair [next]. I mean, [Yair] came out and absolutely dominated a stud [in Josh Emmett] that night and then you have the rematch after they both fight again. You could not have a better result.”
Rodriguez did his part to secure a future fight against Volkanovski after he dispatched Josh Emmett in the UFC 284 co-main event to capture the interim title. As for Makhachev, he’s preparing to observe Ramadan, which runs from March 22 through April 21, and that likely pushes back his next fight until the second half of 2023.
A potential No. 1 contender’s bout is booked in May when Beneil Dariush looks to extend his eight-fight win streak against ex-UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. The winner could easily command Makhachev’s attention in his next title defense, though White was clear that he hadn’t booked any fights at lightweight or featherweight just yet.
“I mean, listen, I don’t know – we didn’t make any fights yet,” White said. “There are a lot of different things that play out and making these fights, you know, timing injuries, personal stuff, whatever it might be.
“But yeah, to me, the fight that makes sense is we make Yair versus Volkanovski, Islam versus somebody whenever that happens and, and then you do the rematch.”
That news may not be what Volkanovski wanted, but at least it appears he’s got assurances from the UFC that he can get another opportunity at Makhachev and the lightweight title. But first things first, he’ll likely have to go through Rodriguez at featherweight to get there.