UFC May Screw Champion on Superfight, Ariel Helwani Says

UFC, Ariel Helwani, Alex Volkanovski Islam Makhachev

Getty Journalist Ariel Helwani.

Renowned MMA reporter Ariel Helwani is concerned UFC champion Alex Volkanovski may not get a ‘champ-champ’ fight.

Last month, reigning lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev took on top contender Charles Oliveira for the vacant belt in the headlining bout of UFC 280. Makhachev put in a dominant performance to finish the greatest finisher in the company’s history in the second round with an arm-triangle choke. Following the win, the Dagestani fighter wasted no time in calling out Volkanovski during the post-fight octagon interview.

In an episode of “The MMA Hour,” Helwani shared that Volkanovski may not get the opportunity to achieve ‘double-champ’ status.

“This guy is crazy, Alex Volkanovski, pound-for-pound number one in most people’s eyes. He’s going to make weight to be a backup for a title fight,” said Helwani. “No one does this. He’s just on a different kind of level. The lack of ego that this man possesses considering everything he’s accomplished.

“Now, I feel like they’re going to screw him. They are not going to give him the Islam fight. I’m getting worried about these tweets I’m seeing and all this stuff. He wrote to Islam, ‘hey, are you a man of your word?’ and Islam wrote to him, ‘are you a man of your word?’

“A lot of words being thrown, but he’s got to get the fight.”

Volkanovski & Makhachev Went Back and Forth on Confirming the Fight

Volkanovski was last seen in action against former featherweight king Max Holloway in July, where he put a decisive end to their trilogy with a unanimous decision win at UFC 276. After clearing out the division, the dominant 145-pound champion does not have a clear-cut opponent for his next outing.

Company president Dana White indicated ‘The Great’ would be next in line for the 155-pound gold, with all parties involved seemingly in agreement about the prospect of the promotion’s return to Australia for UFC 284 in February.

However, recent developments suggest there may be more than meets the eye. On Nov. 3, Volkanovski took to Twitter to call out Makhachev to confirm the bout.

“Are you a man of your word? @MAKHACHEVMMA? Let’s make it happen! #UFC284.”

Makhachev responded, “The second I receive the paper, I will sign it, don’t worry enjoy your P4P first spot for now.”

He followed up with another message that cast doubts on the showdown.

I’m not sure what UFC wants,” added Makhachev. “February Australia or March Vegas, I honestly don’t care about location and opponent, I never choose opponents. Just send a contract and stop playing games.

Volkanovski Believes He Will Break Makhachev Mentally

Makhachev turned up the heat in their rivalry by dismissing Volkanovski’s chances of beating him due to the size difference. ‘The Great’ would like the chance to prove Makhachev wrong and turn the tables on him with a counter-challenge.

“Mentally, he’s breaking. This stuff’s going to get to him, because this is not what he expected. He’s like, ‘How is this little fella doing this?’ And I guarantee you I will. So let’s see how he deals with that,” Volkanovski said via MMA Junkie. “Look, everyone wants to talk about me dealing with him being able to take me down and all that. Trust me: I put myself in this position every camp. That’s the whole point of my training is make me uncomfortable.

“Put me in the sh*ttiest positions you can. I ain’t going to be fazed by it. I guarantee you I’m getting back up. Let’s see how he deals with a short man getting back to his feet and punching him in the face. That’s what I look forward to seeing. That’s the question that I want to know. I want to see how easily he breaks when things don’t go to plan.”

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