Volkanovski and Holloway were set to collide for a trilogy clash at UFC 272 on March 5. However, mere days after news of the matchup broke, “Blessed” was forced to withdraw after aggravating a previous injury. That led to a search for a new championship challenger and the announcement of a new date for the Australian’s next defense – UFC 273 on April 9.
Late last week, ESPN revealed Holloway had been cleared to return to training and was open to serving as a backup fighter for the UFC 273 main event. It’s fair to say that development hasn’t thrilled the reigning titleholder.
Taking to Twitter, Volkanovski lambasted Holloway, accusing him of faking his injury. He ended the rant by seemingly declining the Hawaiian’s backup request.
“@BlessedMMA wants to be the backup fighter for the fight he was originally scheduled to fight. so in other words…he was never injured. Just hoping he doesn’t have to fight me or fight me while I’m preparing for someone…but hey ‘if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying’…NO”
Volkanovski and Holloway have already shared the Octagon twice. At UFC 245 in December 2019, “The Great” dethroned “Blessed” via unanimous decision, securing his place on the featherweight throne as an undefeated UFC fighter. Seven months later, the pair met for the second time at UFC 251 on Fight Island. In an even tighter contest, it was Volkanovski who fell on the right side of a split decision.
Despite acknowledging that Holloway’s five-round victories over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez in 2021 certainly cemented the 30-year-old as the #1 contender, Volkanovski previously suggested Holloway may be keen to avoid a trilogy fight in order to prevent his legacy from being damaged by a third defeat to the Aussie.
Holloway’s injury and subsequent recovery have clearly fueled that hypothesis in the mind of the featherweight king.
Volkanovski Has His Sights Set On The Zombie
After the Holloway scrap fell through, the UFC and Volkanovski were certainly not short on potential replacement opponents. From Giga Chikadze and Yair Rodriguez to Josh Emmett and Henry Cejudo, a heap of names wanted a shot at the 33-year-old’s belt.
The man chosen, however, is a fan-favorite divisional veteran who has thrilled UFC fans since his debut in 2011. At UFC 273, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung will have his second chance at reaching the top of the featherweight food chain.
While it stands to reason the victor will face the challenge of Holloway later in the year, Volkanovski is clearly skeptical of that happening if he has his hand raised on April 9.
Who do you think will leave UFC 273 with featherweight gold, Alexander Volkanovski or “The Korean Zombie?”