Charles Oliveira out; Alexander Volkanovski now faces Islam Makhachev in UFC 294 main event

UFC 294 has a new main event with Charles Oliveira forced off the card due to injury, and lightweight champion Islam Makhachev stepping in to face Alexander Volkanovski.

The rematch, announced by UFC CEO Dana White following the Season 7 finale of The Contender Series, headlines the UFC’s latest trip to Abu Dhabi on Oct. 14. The Overdogs podcast initially reported the news, which comes with less than two weeks remaining until the event.

White said Oliveira suffered a serious cut on his eyebrow in the fifth round of sparring on Monday night and was unable to make the fight. The UFC CEO expressed his ire that the former lightweight champion didn’t contact the promotion before getting his wound stitched. He also groused about the information leak before the promotion could tell its partners in Abu Dhabi.

It’s a seismic shift for the upcoming pay-per-view. Volkanovski steps in to avenge a razor-close loss to Makhachev when they first met in February. Volkanovski lobbied for an immediate rematch, but he instead went onto defend his UFC featherweight title with a lopsided win over Yair Rodriguez in July.

All signs pointed toward Volkanovski defending his belt again at UFC 297 in January against Ilia Topuria, but it appears those plans will be put on hold for now as the Australian makes his second attempt at becoming a two-division UFC champion. White confirmed that the promotion was targeting Volkanovski vs. Topuria before the UFC 294 shakeup and said “we’ll have to see” about a new headliner for the winter event.

White added that Mateusz Gamrot, who recently was confirmed as the backup fighter for Oliveira vs. Makhachev, was at one point an option to step in, but he didn’t elaborate on why Gamrot was not chosen.

With Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 in the headliner spot, lightweight contender Matuesz Gamrot remains in place as a backup in case anything else happens between now and Oct. 14. The card takes place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi with the card airing live on ESPN+ pay-per-view in the U.S.

Late Tuesday evening, Oliveira released a video in his native Portuguese explaining his scratch from UFC 294 with the title “I apologize.” He attached a picture to the video, which can be seen below.

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