Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) is the official backup for Makhachev’s vacant lightweight title fight against Charles Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 280 main event at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
While Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) isn’t sure why Volkanovski flew halfway across the world to be a backup, he’ll be ready for him if Oliveira doesn’t make it to the fight.
“I met Volkanovski downstairs,” Makhachev told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC 280 media day. “He’s like a short guy. I asked him, ‘Hey, why you need this? He’s cutting weight right now, but if I beat Volkanovski, people are gonna say – but people always talk. I want to fight Charles, and I hope he’s gonna make weight. But it doesn’t matter because this camp I’m training so hard so it doesn’t matter who’s gonna be there. Saturday night, I need someone.”
Volkanovski is currently ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. With the promotion announcing their return to Australia in February, Makhachev wouldn’t mind going to enemy territory for his first title defense.
“Why not? Yes,” Makhachev said. “I went to Australia one time. We can go again.”
He continued, “Yeah, this is gonna be a good fight. Always when the champion from other divisions they fight with other champions, it’s a big, big fight and very interesting fight for all the fans.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 280.