Reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, who knocked out Alexander Volkanovski last weekend at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi, is advising the Australian to drop his UFC featherweight title defense against Elijah Topuria scheduled for January.
“He can’t fight in January – he should take a break,” MMA Fighting quoted the Russian as saying. “He has a big cut above his eye and he missed a very good leg kick – that’s why he needs a rest. One hundred percent.”
“If he’s smart, if his team is smart, he’ll rest for a couple months because I didn’t choke him and I didn’t finish him with a body kick. It was a leg kick to the head, and it’s not just his coach and his team that has to make the decision, but also his doctor.”
A featherweight title fight between Alex Volkanovski and Elijah Topuria was supposed to headline UFC 297 in Toronto on Jan. 20, but a failed fight with Makhachev, which the Australian accepted on short notice, will likely adjust that scenario.
In the event of a failed fight for Volkanovski, the organization reportedly has a backup plan ready to go, with Max Holloway and Elijah Topuria playing for the interim UFC featherweight title in the main event of the numbered Canadian event.