The UFC is pivoting to a second super fight between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294 on Oct. 21. UFC president Dana White confirmed on Tuesday evening that Charles Oliveira was pulled from the Abu Dhabi card just 11 days out.
A UFC lightweight title tilt between Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2 was originally scheduled to headline at Etihad Arena, one day shy of the first anniversary of Makhachev’s victory over Oliveira in the same venue. White revealed at the “Contender Series” press conference on Tuesday that Oliveira suffered a cut in training that forced him off the card. Volkanovski, UFC’s featherweight champion, will instead move north 10 pounds in nearly as many days to save the event.
Lightweight contender Mateusz Gamrot now finds himself in a frustrating position. The Polish fighter was announced as a backup should Makhachev or Oliveira miss weight or pull out of the fight. Gamrot was training and preparing to make weight for exactly this sort of situation. Understandably, the UFC appears to have pivoted to a fight that will draw more interest in UFC 294. Gamrot is coming off a freak injury stoppage against Rafael Fiziev and a split-decision win over Jalin Turner.
White also said that Paulo Costa vs. Khamzat Chimaev is in jeopardy after Costa underwent elbow surgery three weeks ago. White said he’d have a clearer picture of the UFC 294 co-main event in the coming hours.
Makhachev and Volkanovski previously met in Perth in a super fight between reigning champions in February. Volkanovski gave a spirited effort in his move up a weight class and gained credibility despite a unanimous decision loss. Volkanovski has repeatedly expressed his desire to avenge the loss but will attempt to do so with a very truncated training camp. Volkanovski successfully unified the 145-pound title with a win over former interim champ Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in July. Makhachev has not fought since defeating the featherweight champ.