At the UFC 294 press conference, Islam Makhachev was asked how it felt to be fight in Abu Dhabi again. Alexander Volkanovski interjected to suggest that the Dagestani needed ‘all the advantages’ on his side.
Makhachev initially began answering the question by saying that everyone in Abu Dhabi is on his side, when Volkanovski interrupted him and said:
“Islam needs all the advantages he can get. It’s all he thinks about. I don’t need none of that. I got these (referring to his fists) and that’s all I worry about. I rely on my skills, not crowds, nothing.”
Makhachev then retorted, saying:
“Everybody knows what you need. Just money, that’s it.”
It appears that the 155 lbs. champion was suggesting that Alexander Volkanovski accepted the fight for a payday, given the short notice and the lack of time to prepare.
Volkanovski went on to add that he wishes to ‘avenge’ his losses. Makhachev, on the other hand, stated that there was more risk for him, as he was putting his win streak and his belt on the line. On the other hand, Volkanovski doesn’t have a lot of risk, as his title wouldn’t be on the line.
While there is some truth to that notion, it doesn’t tell the entire picture. This will be Alexander Volkanovski’s second chance at lightweight gold and if he is to fail, it’s unlikely that he will receive another shot, at least in the immediate future.
Check out the exchange between Alexander Volkanovski and Islam Makhachev here (5:34):
Alexander Volkanovski reaffirms commitment to defending featherweight strap
If ‘The Great’ were to beat Islam Makhachev at UFC 294, he will become a two-division champion. Given the history with Makhachev, a rematch seems very likely. Furthermore, lightweight division has a lot of contenders, which may keep him occupied, forcing him to put the featherweight division on hold.
Volkanovski, however, speaking to BT Sport, reaffirmed his commitment to defending the 145 lbs. strap, saying:
“I know the UFC has never seen it done, it’s not an easy thing to do, if I haven’t proved that I can stay busy, wait a second, I am keeping the two divisions. His last fight was me, He’s fighting me, I’ve defended my belt. You’re telling me I can’t keep two divisions busy? I’ve literally done it.”
Check out the clip here: