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Ex-UFC champ says Alexander Volkanovski making a big mistake playing backup for UFC 280

One former UFC champion is not entirely sold on Volkanovski being the backup fighter for Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev at UFC 280. 

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Alexander Volkanovski promoting UFC 284 recently.
Alexander Volkanovski promoting UFC 284 recently.
Photo by James Worsfold/Zuffa LLC

Henry Cejudo is giving Alexander Volkanovski a word of warning about his decision to be the backup fighter for Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev.

Oliveira and Makhachev are vying for the vacant UFC lightweight championship at UFC 280, but if anything goes wrong with either fighter before the pay-per-view event, Volkanovski will fill in immediately. The ‘Great’ has spoken about becoming the next two-division champion in the UFC, so he seized the potential opportunity to do so once he was cleared to return from injury. However, not everyone agreed with his decision to be the backup fighter.

In an eight-minute video uploaded to his official YouTube channel, Cejudo explained why Volkanovski was making a mistake.

“A lot of you guys are going to think I’m being a hater, but I’m going to tell you why this is a mistake for Alexander Volkanovski,” said Cejudo. “Alexander Volkanovski: Number 1, you’re going to get that second title shot. If the UFC confirmed to you that you’re the next person in line to fight for the lightweight title, why don’t you just wait? If for some reason, Charles Oliveira pulls out of the fight — because that’s the only guy that would literally pull out of the fight because of weight issues, or X, Y and Z of not making weight. That being said, let’s say hypothetically, if you were to fight a guy like Islam Makhachev, that’s the worst match-up that you could ever pick.

“Islam Makhachev, if you want to call him a one-trick pony, but that one trick-pony of what he does, where you’ve never been and while a guy with the power, strength and weight that he has on top of you, it’s not a smart idea, Alexander,” continued Cejudo.

Cejudo also explained what Volkanovski would be risking should he go through with his move from featherweight to lightweight right now. For ‘Triple C,’ the reigning UFC featherweight champion has a lot more to lose than gain in terms of his legacy and pound-for-pound status.

“For me, I would never be a replacement fighter,” said Cejudo. “You know why? Because I take my credentials too serious, as I should. I take my career, my legacy too serious, as I should. Why don’t you just wait? Fight somebody in February. I know somebody, he’s talking right here. But I get it. More than likely, they’re not going to give it to me. It’s the same reason why I’m going to fight my way back. I’m going to fight you and then we can settle the score. But that being said, I think you shouldn’t be doing things like this.

“Because the simple fact is, when you fight for a double title, you should take your time,” continued Cejudo. “Taking your time is the best thing you could do because right now, you’re not giving yourself a fighter’s chance. You’re just fighting to see, ‘Okay, I’m going to fight and I’m going to see if I could win.’ Not only will you lose, but you’ll also lose your pound-for-pound status. And when you have that pound-for-pound status, even though it’s voted by these damn analysts who have never fought in their lives, but I will say you are pound-for-pound right now. You will lose that.”

Volkanovski recently notched his fourth consecutive defense with a unanimous decision over Max Holloway in their trilogy fight at UFC 276 this past July.

UFC 280, UFC Fight Poster, UFC PPV event, Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev, Aljamain Sterling vs TJ Dillashaw, Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley,
Official UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev Fight Poster

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