Roughly a fortnight after having three screws placed in his left hand, Alexander Volkanovski is back contact training and making a shock push to go on standby for UFC 280 in October – when Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev fight for the vacant lightweight title.

Despite breaking and dislocating his left hand in a hyped trilogy win over Max Holloway at UFC 276 three weeks ago, Australia’s No.1 fighter is already back in the gym doing strength, conditioning, even kickboxing workouts under the supervision of head coach Joe Lopez.

While surgeons used screws to repair his busted left hand, the UFC featherweight champ has already opened discussions with his team about being ready for the Abu Dhabi headliner on October 23 (AEST) that could see him earn a second title and ‘champ champ’ status.

Speaking with The Daily Telegraph this week, Volkanovski revealed he has a “feeling” either Oliveira or Makhachev will withdraw from the bout, opening up an opportunity for him to chase a second belt if his hand is ready.

The champ added that, under his current return timeline, he will be back to full contact training by September and could potentially then have up to five weeks before the UFC 280 card.

Watch Boxing Live & On-Demand on Kayo. Selected international fights, classic bouts and more. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

Fighting up a division would also mean a far easier weight cut.

Better, Volkanovski will also be able to relay his plans personally to UFC president Dana White when he heads Stateside this week, to be in the crowd when close friend and New Zealand training partner Kai Kara France fights for the interim flyweight title at UFC 277 in Dallas.

While UFC executives are already in discussions for a blockbuster Australian card – and Volkanovski title headliner – next February, the champ revealed he would be pushing for “a trip to Abu Dhabi” if it meant a shot at more UFC gold.

“Remember when I said about never letting people take away opportunities away from me?” the 33-year-old said when asked about being back in training so quickly.

“So if I’m fit enough, do I stand by and be ready (for UFC 280) just in case someone gets injured, which I’ve got a feeling someone will? Go and stand by so nobody can take that opportunity away from me?

“That’s the type of guy I am.

“So we’ll see if it’s doable and I might be making that trip to Abu Dhabi.

“Because that’s who I am. Take away anything that can get in my way.”

While a UFC headliner on home soil early next year remains the most likely outcome, Volkanovski stressed his left hand would likely be ready should either Oliveira or Makhachev withdraw from that October lightweight blockbuster.

“I trained this morning,” Volkanosvki continued of his recovery. “I was doing kickboxing this morning.

“Without using this (lifts his left hand) hand, obviously. But I was kicking, punching with the right hand … I did strength at the start of the week.

“Six weeks from now I’ll be able to grapple.

“Twelve weeks from when the injury happened, I’ll be full contact.

“It will be properly healed. Like the rest of my bones if not stronger because of the screws.”

Elsewhere, Volkanovski also revealed his most recent break was the same injury he had suffered to his right hand in the first Max Holloway fight, only that time in the fourth round.

It is now the third time the Australian has fought, and won, with a broken hand.

“So there are now three screws in there,” he said of his most recent break.

“It dislocated.

“The chunk of bone that broke off, it dislocated out.

“So they had to push that right back in.

“It didn’t crumble in all little pieces though, it was a clean break.”

Incredibly, Volkanovski added that even after watching footage of the win back, he was still unable to tell exactly what punch caused his hand to break.

“I’ve got that good of a poker face,” he laughed. “So I don’t know when I did it.

“There are some little things I see (watching the fight back) … maybe move a little differently, just to make it look like I’m not trying to run, I’m trying to do things, but keep him away while trying to hide the fact that I’ve hurt myself.

“But mate, I’m telling you, I should play more poker because it’s hard to find.”

 # UFC 277 is live on Main Event this Sunday from 12 noon.

Originally published as UFC: Alexander Volkanovski wants to go on standby for UFC 280 lightweight title fight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *