Charles Oliveira replaced by Alexander Volkanovski in Islam Makhachev fight

Oliveira was ruled out of the title fight on less than two weeks’ notice, due to a severe cut above his eye

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Wednesday 11 October 2023 08:05 BST
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Charles Oliveira will be replaced by Alexander Volkanovski in the UFC 294 main event on 21 October, as Islam Makhachev defends the lightweight title.

Brazilian Oliveira was due to fight Makhachev in a rematch 12 months in the making – in the same venue in Abu Dhabi, no less – but he has been ruled out due to a severe cut over his right eye. As a result, the former champion will not get the chance to avenge his submission loss to Makhachev.

Instead, Volkanovski will get the chance to avenge his decision loss to the Russian.

Volkanovski has been dominant as featherweight champion and moved up in weight to challenge Makhachev for the 155lbs title in February. That fight, in Volkanovski’s native Australia, was closely contested and ended with Makhachev’s hand raised.

A rematch between the pair has been on the cards since, but the UFC opted to prioritise a second clash between Oliveira, 32, and Makhachev, 31, after the Brazilian stopped Beneil Dariush in Round 1 in June. Volkanovski, 35, then went on to stop interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez in Round 3 in July.

Reacting to his short-notice rematch with Makhachev – a longtime friend of UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov – Volkanovski wrote on Instagram: “I love this s***.” Oliveira, meanwhile, shared a video with the caption: “I apologize.”

Volkanovski’s loss to Makhachev in February was the Australian’s first defeat since 2013, and it was just the second of his professional career. Meanwhile, Makhachev has won 12 fights in a row since suffering the sole loss of his pro career in 2015.

Volkanovski was in fact the back-up fighter for Oliveira and Makhachev’s first fight, while Mateusz Gamrot was named as the back-up for the rematch, only to be overlooked.

UFC president Dana White also revealed on Tuesday (10 October) that the co-main event of UFC 294 is under threat, with Paulo Costa having undergone elbow surgery just weeks before his planned bout with Khamzat Chimaev.

UFC 294 takes place at the Etihad Arena on 21 October.

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