UFC 280 is just under two weeks out, and the hype is starting to mount. Almost all fight fans are overlooking this weekend’s Fight Night Vegas 62 in favor of the following week’s PPV event. You can’t blame them, either. The card is stacked top to bottom, with every fight being a must-watch for MMA fans, with the finale being the crown jewel of all main events this year: Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev.
Though having gone through every other top contender in the Lightweight Division, Charles Oliveira is coming in as an underdog against Islam Makhachev, who many are comparing to a long-time childhood friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov. The main event took an even crazier turn when Alexander Volkanovski went tweeted on Tuesday claiming he was the back backup fighter for the main event if either of the two were unable to fight.
This isn’t necessarily a huge surprise considering that Volkanovski was talking about moving up after his trilogy fight with Max Holloway at UFC 276. However, if it’s true, we should all pray to the MMA gods that nothing happens to either fighter, as this would be the absolute worst way for Volkanovski to fight for a historic second belt.
There’s No Lightweight Champ
As of right now, the title of Lightweight Champion is vacant due to the now infamous controversial weigh-ins of UFC 274. However, the MMA community, which rarely agrees on anything, is basically all in agreement that Charles Oliviera is the Champion. If Charles had got injured and were unable to fight on the 22nd, Makhachev and Volkanovski would be fighting for the title, not an interim belt.
Depending on how that fight plays out, there is a real chance that Oliveira would be stuck in contender purgatory, where the options are to fight guys below you and risk losing and being put even further away from the belt. Or you remain inactive for maybe six months to see how rematches could possibly shake up and see where you stand when the dust settles.
However unlikely, it would be the last thing that Charles Oliveira would deserve. He is just now starting to hit the peak of his stardom, and this would potentially kill all the hype resulting in fans never seeing the Oliveira vs. Volkanovski fight that all fans drool over.
Too Murky of Context
Ever lose a game and start making excuses for why you lost? Fight fans love to do that for their favorite fighter, and even allowing that cloud to exist over what would be the biggest draw for the sport this decade would be a severe mistake by the UFC to make. Not to mention the fact we would miss out on what would be sure to be a great press tour.
The UFC announced that UFC 284 will be held in Perth, Australia, and I believe the best route would be for the UFC to give Volkanovski someone like Josh Emmett to clean up the top of the Featherweight rankings in front of a home crowd before booking the Volkanovski vs. Oliveira fight in Vegas for the late summer.
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