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Alexander Volkanovski reveals he will serve as backup to UFC 280 main event after getting cleared to return from injury

UFC 276: Volkanovski v Holloway Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski got some great news about his injured hand and now he’s made him available for a potentially huge opportunity.

On Monday, Volkanovski revealed that his doctor has cleared him to return to action after suffering a hand injury in his five-round decision win over Max Holloway in July. As a result, Volkanovski will now fly to Abu Dhabi where he will serve as the official backup for the lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, which serves as the main event.

“We’re locked in as the backup fighter,” Volkanovski said. “I’ve been calling for it, I said I wanted it. I just had to make sure the hand was all good. We’re all good, got the clearance to fight.

“The UFC’s on board, everyone’s on board so I’ll be at UFC 280 to make weight and looking forward to it.”

Over the past few years, the UFC has started employing backup fighters for marquee events to ensure a main event or title fight doesn’t lose out if one of the athletes involved is unable to compete for any number of reasons.

Backup fighters became even more necessary during the global pandemic when positive COVID tests were routinely altering events at the last minute.

Volkanovski has been calling for an opportunity to move up to the lightweight division to challenge for the title and it appears that is definitely his plan now that he’s set as the backup fighter for UFC 280.

“Let’s see what happens,” Volkanovski said. “If someone doesn’t make it, I’m there to save the day. If not, at least I’m locked in as the next guy to fight for that lightweight title and that’s that.”

Initially, Beneil Dariush told MMA Fighting that he was expected to serve as the backup to the main event since he was already scheduled on the card with his own fight against Mateusz Gamrot.

Dariush is riding an impressive seven-fight win streak but he’s been out of action since May 2021 due to an injury that prevented him from competing earlier in the year. While it appears he’ll no longer serve as the backup fighter to the main event, Dariush will still compete at UFC 280 in his scheduled bout against Gamrot.

As part of the process for a backup fighter, Volkanovski will weigh in along with all of the other athletes in Abu Dhabi and he’ll be required to make 155 pounds so he could potentially replace one of the fighters in the lightweight title fight.

From the sound of things, Volkanovski plans on hitting the scale and then turning his full attention to the lightweight division for the immediate future.

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