The UFC’s featherweight champion has established himself as one of the best fighters in the sport and now occupies the top spot in the promotion’s pound-for-pound rankings following Kamaru Usman’s loss at UFC 278.
After finally closing the book on his rivalry with Max Holloway and successfully defending his featherweight title for a fourth time, Volkanovski teased that he was considering a move up in weight to challenge for the lightweight title.
Although he isn’t technically booked to fight for the belt, there’s a chance that the 34-year-old could return to lightweight for the first time since his pre-UFC days at UFC 280. The card is headlined by a fight between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, which will be contested for the lightweight title that Oliveira was forced to vacate after missing weight at UFC 274.
Replacement Fight Would Be “A Normal Contract”
Volkanovski will be attending UFC 280 as the official backup fighter for the main event, a position that Beneil Dariush previously thought he occupied.
Whereas Dariush is currently scheduled to meet Mateusz Gamrot on the card, “The Great” will weigh in but only step into the cage should Oliveira or Makhachev be unable to compete.
Going through all the effort of training and making weight without knowing whether you’ll actually compete is no small ask. Although backup fighters like Volkanovski are compensated for making weight, it’s a very different scenario to go from stepping on a scale to stepping into the cage against one of two possible opponents.
Volkanovski recently spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, and Iole asked the 34-year-old if fighting at UFC 280 would come with any extra compensation. Somewhat surprisingly, the featherweight champion indicated it would be treated like any normal fight he had signed on for.
“Obviously if you fight it’s gonna be a normal contract, right?” Volkanovski answered. “But I mean, there’s a chance of that fight not happening. So for me, this is a commitment. When I told them I wanted to do this, a lot of people, ‘cause I just announced it a couple of days ago, they feel like I’m just all of a sudden training now, but I mean I’ve been training.”
A chance for Volkanovski to claim a second UFC title would certainly make for a massive storyline at UFC 280, but the current main event between Oliveira and Makhachev already has MMA fans plenty excited.
In addition to that lightweight title fight, the main card of UFC 280 features Aljamain Sterling defending his bantamweight title again former champion T.J. Dillashaw in the co-main event.
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