After a disappointing performance at the UFC 294, Alexander Volkanovski is eager to return to the cage without delay. Referred to as “The Great”, he recently attempted to win the lightweight gold for the second time against Islam Makhachev on an athlete’s short notice of 10 days. The match on Saturday in Abu Dhabi ended when Makhachev delivered a standout head kick knockout in the opening frame to defend his title. Following this, Volkanovski, whose current record is 26-3, experienced his first ever stoppage loss in the UFC.
Before taking up a short notice match against Makhachev, Volkanovski had made plans to defend his featherweight title against Ilia Topuria at UFC 297 in January 2024. There have been cautionary suggestions aplenty advising Volkanovski against this plan, including from Henry Cejudo, the former UFC double champion. Despite the advice and his recent loss, Volkanovski plans to fight Topuria, the undefeated Georgian contender only two months after his first UFC KO loss. At 35, Volkanovski confirmed that he did not suffer any concussion, contrary to Cejudo’s speculations. Volkanovski reassured fans through his YouTube channel that, “I talked to the UFC and I said keep me busy. I’m in my prime, I need to fight […] I want to get back in camp. I’m the best version of myself inside and outside the cage when I have a clear direction. And clear direction is having a fight”.
UFC 297 is scheduled to take place on January 20, 2024, at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Presuming Volkanovski’s title fight against Topuria stays on the lineup, it will likely headline the main card. This card also features a match between top featherweight contenders Arnold Allen and Movsar Evloev, likely influencing who gets to compete against the winner.