Islam Makhachev has claimed that Justin Gaethje was the initial choice for his new UFC 294 opponent.
Makhachev was expected to collide with Charles Oliveira in a rematch for the UFC Lightweight Championship on October 21. Back at UFC 280, Makhachev submitted “do Bronx” in the second round to capture the 155-pound gold. While the rematch was set, Oliveira ended up suffering a nasty cut on his eyebrow, forcing him off the UFC 294 card in Abu Dhabi.
Stepping up in Oliveira’s place will be UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski. Makhachev and Volkanovski first fought each other back in February, and it was the Russian bruiser who emerged victorious in a highly competitive title fight.
Islam Makhachev Not Surprised Alex Volkanovski Took The Fight
During an interview with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, Islam Makhachev admitted that while he wasn’t expecting Volkanovski to be the final replacement choice, he isn’t shocked that “The Great” accepted the bout offer.
“Honestly, I think they give me [Mateusz] Gamrot,” Makhachev said. “I heard that Gamrot gonna get this fight, but when they say it’s gonna be Volkanovski, it’s not big surprise for me because this guy will take fight before 10 days, short notice. He don’t put his belt [on the line], but he just make money. That’s it.”
Justin Gaethje Was UFC’s First Choice, So Why Did Volkanovski Get The Fight?
Makhachev then made the claim that Justin Gaethje was called upon to replace Charles Oliveira at first. The 155-pound champion explained why the title opportunity ultimately went to Alex Volkanovski.
“I heard they called Gaethje, but Gaethje say, ‘I cannot make weight because 10 days,’ and we don’t have like many [options],” Makhachev said.
Here is the video clip of Islam Makhachev explaining to Aaron Bronsteter why he’s fighting Alex Volkanovski instead of Justin Gaethje at UFC 294 on October 21:
Islam Makhachev reacts to Alexander Volkanovski replacing Charles Oliveira: "I am happy, because after the last fight we had many questions, but all answers are going to be in Abu Dhabi." pic.twitter.com/ooNMYDqXJO
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) October 11, 2023