UFC 294 has had a massive change-up less than two weeks before the event with the news that Charles Oliveira is out of his main event lightweight title rematch against current champion Islam Makhachev due to suffering a bad cut to his right eyebrow in training.
However the blockbuster event in Abu Dhabi will still be firing on all cylinders on October 21st as the UFC has moved quickly to draft in featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski as the replacement for Oliveira against Makhachev instead.
This is a rematch that many had been calling for since they first locked horns at UFC 284 in Australia back in February, with the 145lb champ giving a good account of himself, though ultimately losing to Makhachev by unanimous decision.
Despite the loss, Volkanovski still remained above Makhachev in the UFC’s official pound-for-pound rankings, and he’s since gone on to strengthen his position by returning to 145lbs and successfully defending his belt against Yair Rodriguez.
The 35-year-old has consistently called for another fight with Makhachev, but in an ideal world it wouldn’t have come at a time when he has barely any time to prepare for both his opponent and the fact that it will be up at 155lbs.
In fact, Volkanovski’s next fight at featherweight had only just been announced two days ago, which would have seen him go up against rising force Ilia Topuria in the main event of UFC 297 in January, but now they’ll have to rethink their plans for that show.
Spare a thought for Mateusz Gamrot in all this as he’d only recently been announced as the back-up fighter for the Makhachev vs. Oliveira rematch at UFC 294 in case either fighter pulled out, but has been overlooked here. It’s easy to understand why the UFC have gone with Volkanovski though, and if either he or Makhachev has to pull out for any reason in the coming days then Gamrot would likely be next in line.