The reigning UFC featherweight champion prepares to defend his title next month at UFC 290 on July 8 in Las Vegas against interim titleholder Yair Rodriguez. Despite his shortcoming via unanimous decision against lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev in his most recent outing, Volkanovski feels he has unfinished business at 155 pounds.
Volkanovski's lightweight title shot this past February forced top contender Beneil Dariush to wait even longer for his first crack at UFC gold. With a win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 289, it seems like a lock that Dariush will be next in line for Makhachev.
“This is a massive fight,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “We all know that Beneil deserves a shot at the title. Probably deserved it before but I had to do my thing and I still plan on doing something so you never know what’s happening there.
“This is very important for Beneil. Very important for even Charles because Charles’ last loss was the title fight. He was still pretty dominant as champion. Obviously, when I say dominant, he had a few title wins which is impressive. It’s not easy to do. Some of them were pretty close, back and forth then he ended up finishing them in wild, very fun fights.”
Oliveira looks to rebound against the surging Dariush, who has won eight straight. Against Makhachev for the vacant belt this past October, “Do Bronx” saw his incredible 11-fight undefeated streak snapped in round two with an arm triangle choke. That same night, Dariush extended his winning streak with an impressive performance opposite Mateusz Gamrot, earning a unanimous decision.
The matchup has been booked on numerous occasions before this hopefully final date in Vancouver, British Columbia. Therefore, fans and fellow possible competitors like Volkanovski have had plenty of time to dissect how it all plays out.
“This is the right fight for both of them in their careers,” Volkanovski said. “I think Charles is looking for a statement to make on the next guy. Beneil is on an absolute tear at the moment, looking incredible, showing his skill, his fight IQ. It’s gonna be a fun one.
“Beneil’s the favorite and he probably should be. We all know Charles can get the finish, submission and TKO. Submitting Dariush I feel like is gonna be hard. I think he’s a pretty slick style, he’s a durable dude, he’s resilient. He’s got all the right stuff that makes him a very good competitor, which is gonna be very hard to just submit a guy like that. Especially when he’s a black belt himself. That can definitely happen but if I had to take a pick, probably best value is to go with Charles. Maybe the TKO. I can’t see that happening. Beneil can finish Charles as well.
“My pick would be a Charles Oliveira TKO and Charles has something to prove,” he continued. “He wants that title back and I think he’s gonna go out there and come swinging. So, he’s gonna really look for that finish. Beneil again, very durable, very tough, he’s hard to finish, but it could happen. It’s gonna be a very close fight. I’m almost 50-50 on it. The odds probably favor Charles and that’s why I’m leaning to him as a pick, leaning to Beneil for the win. Tough one to call.”
While Volkanovski couldn’t accomplish his goal of becoming a double champ on his first attempt, he put up such a great effort that many still argue he should have won. “The Great” believes he did enough and hopes to prove it whenever works best for all involved.
Makhachev is expected to defend his title next at UFC 294 on October 21 in Abu Dhabi. That timeframe provides the winner of Oliveira vs. Dariush — and Volkanovski if he beats Rodriguez — with more than enough time to properly prepare. According to Volkanovski, he already had the option to wait for his rematch after his loss, he just didn’t want to stay inactive for the whole middle of 2023.
“Let’s see what’s next for the winner because you know I still want that lightweight title,” Volkanovski said. “It’s something that’s definitely there. It’s just the timing. Does the winner of this one quickly get a fight in then I fight the winner a little bit later? The timing still works for that. So, whatever the best timing is, you know I’m up for.”
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The MMA Hour.
UFC 289 Media Day.
Top UFC 289 Fighter Finishes.
PFL Media Day navigation.
Breaking down Oliveira vs. Dariush.
Borz at AllStars.
Training and eating as a champ.
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Face off by the water.
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I can finally announce I am now a @ufc fighter— Shauna Bannon (@ShaunaBannon5) June 7, 2023
So grateful for everyone who had a part in me getting here over my 25 years in martial arts We have had many ups and downs lots of highs and lows and I am now reaching a huge milestone in my career! pic.twitter.com/lOwUelcAwb
Need a ride?
Champ is watching.
Dariush or Oliveira?— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) June 7, 2023
You can’t not love Volkanovski in the lightweight mix. Him having the featherweight strap just makes everything a little bit messier than it needs to be though.
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