UFC 294: Alexander Volkanovski’s contract pay rise throws UFC into a spin

Alexander Volkanovski has reportedly signed a new contract with the UFC to make the Aussie one of the highest paid fighters on the planet.

The featherweight king on Wednesday shocked the world by stepping in to take the open fight against lightweight champion Islam Makhachev on just 11 days notice.

It will be Volkanovski’s second chance to win “champ-champ” status after he was narrowly defeated by Makhachev via a controversial decision at UFC 284 this year.

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The UFC 294 re-match in Abu Dhabi reportedly comes with a significant pay rise.

Speaking with Fox Sports Australia, Volkanovski’s manager Ash Belcastro said: “We’ve signed a great new agreement – not just for this fight but beyond — and Volk is now at the top echelon of UFC athletes (in terms of pay).

“It’s not just money, either. There is a whole lot more around it and he has been given some really good guarantees.

“Typically in fight sports, the heavier you are the more you get paid.

“But with Alex, as a featherweight … he’s doing really well.

“As far as featherweights are concerned, he was already the highest paid fighter ever outside Conor McGregor.

“But this new deal, it puts him in a great position to look after his family and even beyond that.”

He told News Corp there were “bigger fights” at lightweight.

Belcastro has also throw a potential spanner in the works by announcing Volkanovski will stay at lightweight if he conquers Makhachev.

The comment came on the same day reports emerged the UFC is privately hoping to have Volkanovski defend his featherweight belt against Ilia Topuria in the yet-to-be announced UFC 297 main event card scheduled for January 20 in Toronto.

Leading MMA journalist Ariel Helwani said on Thursday the UFC is planning to organise a fight between Topuria and Max Holloway — likely for an interim belt — if Volkanovski loses against Makhachev and is medically unable to step back into the Octagon before January.

News Corp reported Wednesday the initial plan had been for Volkanovski to eventually get his second shot at the lightweight belt next year, facing the winner of Makhachev’s fight with Charles Oliveira.

Oliveira was ruled out after splitting his eyebrow “wide open”, according to UFC boss Dana White.

Volkanovski is coming off a dominant three-round featherweight title fight victory over Yair Rodriguez in July — but was then forced to undergo elbow surgery.

White confirmed the heavily-anticipated rematch on Wednesday following the finale of the latest Contender Series, with Volkanovski having just 11 more days to prepare.

“The Volkanovski crew … these guys are just absolute studs,” White said.

“He jumps in and he accepts the fight.”

Volkanovski will now get his second chance at becoming a two-division champion and potentially take over Jon Jones as men’s pound-for-pound leader.

Their fight is scheduled to take place on in Abu Dhabi on October 22 at 5am AEST.

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