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Alexander Volkanovski not ruling out return in October for Islam Makhachev rematch: ‘I want that Islam fight’

Alexander Volkanovski has some minor injuries to heal up after his title defense at UFC 290. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be ready for a potential rematch against Islam Makhachev later this year.

Just after dispatching Yair Rodriguez on Saturday night, Volkanovski mentioned plans for an arm surgery. But he certainly won’t allow that to deter his opportunity to become a two-division UFC champion. With Charles Oliveira saying recently he won’t be able to compete in October, Volkanovski appears more than ready to take his place if Makhachev headlines UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi.

“We all know I want that lightweight belt,” Volkanovski said at the UFC 290 post-fight press conference. “We all know I want that rematch. I want that Islam fight. I think not only for me to get that belt, to get that win back but I think it is a massive fight for the UFC as well.

“I think it’s a fight everyone wants to see. It was literally that type of fight. It was that close. It was a cracking fight. Everyone enjoyed it. I was very, very high level. It was [No. 1 and No. 2 pound-for-pound] going at it. We showed out, it really was that., He lived up to the hype. I lived up to the hype and that fight lived up to the hype. We just need to see [rounds] 5 to 10.”

Volkanovski lost a razor-close decision to Makhachev back in February as the featherweight and lightweight champions clashed. While Makhachev hasn’t booked another fight since then, Volkanovski wasted no time returning to 145 pounds for his win over Rodriguez at UFC 290.

Meanwhile, Oliveira defeated Beneil Dariush in June. But he’s now calling for a fight in November or December, which could open the door for Volkanovski to slide into an immediate rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s progeny.

“It makes it a lot better opportunity for me to step in there [against Islam Makhachev],” Volkanovski said when addressing Oliveira. “I’m not ruling that out. It’s funny. These people want extra time off and here I am telling you I’m going to get surgery and I’ll probably going to turn out there in October. That’s what I’m showing you.

“Find me a champion, there’s not many of them anyway. I know you maybe got your [Israel Adesanya] and myself that are doing this. We’re going out there, we’re staying active, we’re fighting the fights that a lot of people wouldn’t. I think people need to respect that a lot. People talk about BMF’s and all that type of stuff. They’re real BMF’s. Guys that turn up when there’s a lot on the line.”

Outside of the lone loss he’s suffered in his UFC career, Makhachev has largely dominated all of his past competition outside of the five-round war with Volkanovski, which makes the featherweight champion that much more excited about a rematch.

That said, Volkanovski won’t disrespect Makhachev by predicting a one-sided fight when they meet again, because he knows nothing will come easy. The only difference is Volkanovski is promising he will leave with two titles.

“I’d be lying if I say I’m just going to walk through him and do this and do that,” Volkanovski said. “It’s going to be another highly contested battle, but I guarantee I get my hand raised. I think I’m going to capitalize on a lot more things but again, it really is two top guys going at it. They’ve done five rounds and there’s a good chance you might see another five rounds of it. I’d like to get a finish, but we’re both that good. It might be that type of fight.

“It’s a challenge that excites me so that’s obviously why I want it. You talk about I don’t need to be motivated but it’s exciting when I can have guys like that in front of me. That camp that I had, I did like 14 weeks. It’s so good to have someone like that in front of you. You ask how do you get better? It’s things like that, that get you better. Certain opponents in front of you that get you better. I told myself where you’re at now is not good enough. In that fight, he got his hand raised. Do I believe I won? Yeah I do, but he got his hand raised so I need to work on these things. I’m going to evolve again, and these lightweights and featherweights aren’t going to stand a chance.”

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