Alex Volkanovski's rematch with Islam Makhachev is on, and much sooner than either man had planned.
In a stunning development, Volkanovski will take the fight with the Dagestani destroyer on just 11 days' notice following Brazilian Charles Oliviera's withdrawal from UFC 294's main event on October 22.
Former lightweight champion Oliveira was looking to avenge a previous submission defeat to Makhachev in October 2022, but has withdrawn from the scheduled bout in Abu Dhabi with an eye laceration.
Volkanovski will now look to pull off one of the greatest wins in combat sports history against the undefeated lightweight champion on less than two weeks' preparation.
"It took one phone call," UFC president Dana White said confirming the bout on Wednesday.
"The Volkanovski crew... those guys are just absolute studs.
"Round five of sparring last night, before he's supposed jump on a plane today, [Oliveira] splits his eyebrow wide open. He got stitched up last night, obviously can't fly out there with that.
"I can see him not wanting to risk it, getting shot like this. [Volkanovski] jumps in and takes the fight. It's one of the most anticipated rematches ever."
It's a surprise development given Polish star Mateusz Gamrot had been the scheduled back-up long before Oliveira's injury, a role Volkanovski played ahead of Makhachev-Oliveira I.
While he's long stated a desire rematch Makhachev after their first bout in Perth in February ended in a razor-thin decision win for the Russian, Volkanovski had been tipped to defend his featherweight strap against Georgian rising star Ilia Topuria in January.
It was set to be his return to the cage post-elbow surgery following his last-start victory over Mexican striker Yair Rodriguez in July.
He will now take on a monumental task of jumping up a division to face a reigning champion coming off a full preparation, albeit for a different opponent.
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