Sorry Toronto, Canada. Your dreams of a Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira lightweight title fight are over.
Over the weekend, MMA reporter Ariel Helwani shared the news that UFC was looking to hold the much-anticipated rematch between Makhachev and Oliveira in T-Dot for UFC 297 on January 20th. Not so, according to UFC CEO Dana White.
“Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 will not headline UFC 297 next month in Toronto, per Dana White,” ESPN’s Brett Okamoto wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “As of now, Oliveira does appear to be the most likely 155 challenger, although White tells ESPN, ‘Anything is possible, it’s whenever both are ready.’”
Makhachev’s manager @AliAbdelaziz00 tells ESPN he has informed the UFC the earliest Makhachev will be ready to defend his title is March 9.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 5, 2023
Okamoto then added an interesting note on Makhachev’s availability: “Makhachev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz tells ESPN he has informed the UFC the earliest Makhachev will be ready to defend his title is March 9.”
That’s a really interesting date to list because it is after the UFC’s big Saudi Arabia debut show on March 2nd. Having Makhachev defend his belt in the Middle East again would obviously be massive, and the UFC is all about making its international partners happy. Will Islam really not be ready until a few days after the date?
March 9th is also the last day before Ramadan, so again … strange that Makhachev would be listed as ready to fight during the holy month of fasting.
For now the only definite answer we have is that Islam vs. Charles 2 won’t be happening in Toronto. Canadian fans can look forward to Raquel Pennington vs. Mayra Bueno Silva for the vacant women’s bantamweight title. A previously planned featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria for the same date is currently up in the air as well.