Alexander Volkanovski’s gamble shows the best and worst of the UFC

According to Dana White, it was during Charles Oliveira’s final round of sparring that he suffered a severe cut over his right eye, which ultimately cost him his chance at redemption against Islam Makhachev. Just days before one of the most anticipated rematches in recent MMA history, Oliveira’s injury opened the door for Alexander Volkanovski to step in. The MMA gods had taken away Oliveira’s opportunity, but they had given Volkanovski his own chance at redemption.

Oliveira had been counting down the days until his rematch with Makhachev. It had been 364 days since his defeat, and he was determined to win back the UFC lightweight title. However, for reasons only known to the MMA deities, Oliveira’s opportunity was snatched away. But Oliveira remains unwavering in his faith, believing that everything happens according to God’s plan.

In the weeks leading up to the fight, Oliveira will draw strength from his faith, while Volkanovski, the 145lbs champion, will rely on his own skills and an additional 10lbs to challenge Makhachev. In their first clash, Volkanovski showed great promise, landing more strikes and even knocking down Makhachev. Despite his loss, Volkanovski maintained his position as the Indy Sport pound-for-pound No. 1.

Oliveira’s previous fight with Makhachev did not go as planned. The jiu-jitsu specialist was submitted in the second round, unable to showcase his full potential. However, he has since rebounded with a decisive knockout victory over Beneil Dariush. Volkanovski, too, has bounced back with a win against Yair Rodriguez. Now, both fighters find themselves in a unique position, facing each other with only 11 days’ notice.

Volkanovski understands the challenges he faces, especially in terms of his cardio. He aims to finish the fight early and avoid testing Makhachev’s endurance. Oliveira, on the other hand, would have welcomed such a finish. If Volkanovski can secure a stoppage, it would be a remarkable moment in UFC history.

In addition to the main event, Kamaru Usman will also face a formidable opponent in Khamzat Chimaev. Usman, the former welterweight champion, will be fighting at 185lbs for the first time. The short notice adds another layer of complexity to these fights, as both fighters are taking significant risks.

It is this resilience in the face of adversity that sets MMA apart from other combat sports. Fighters in the UFC are willing to take risks and accept fights on short notice, even when their record and reputation are on the line. Volkanovski’s decision to accept the fight on 11 days’ notice has earned him respect, but it also highlights the expectation placed on UFC fighters to display bravery.

In contrast, in boxing, fighters are less likely to take such risks due to the financial incentives and the emphasis placed on losses. Volkanovski’s willingness to fight under challenging circumstances speaks to his character and dedication to the sport. Despite the outcome of the fight, he will still be regarded as a great fighter.

Fans often criticize fighters who refuse fights or withdraw due to injury. This was the case when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson declined a fight after his opponent missed weight. Even Oliveira and Costa faced criticism for withdrawing from UFC 294 due to their injuries. Volkanovski has received credit for stepping up, but it is important to recognize the pressure and expectations placed on these fighters.

The upcoming rematch between Volkanovski and Makhachev, as well as the bout between Usman and Chimaev, is a testament to the resilience and determination of MMA fighters. The UFC’s ability to recover from setbacks and deliver compelling matchups is what sets it apart from other combat sports. These fights are sure to captivate fans and solidify the fighters’ legacies.


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