Alex Volkanovski has scoffed at rival Islam Makhachev's 'no excuses' jibe, saying it's the reigning lightweight champion who has the history of excuse-making, particularly around weight cuts.
Weight is always a topic of discussion in the lead-up to a Makhachev fight given the huge cuts the Dagestani champion undertakes to reach the 155-pound lightweight limit.
He looked just short of collapse on the scales ahead of his first bout with Volkanovski in Perth in February that saw whispers about illegal IV use in order to rehydrate - something Makhachev labelled "bullshit" on Wednesday.
Gruelling cuts have seen him hint at a looming move up to welterweight, something that played a role in Volkanovski's decision to take Sunday's fight, while Makhachev has suggested the shorter rehydration window in Australia contributed to his final-round fade.
Volkanovski says that, despite the lightweight champion's public suggestion that his opponent has 'no excuses', it's the Dagestani camp that has been full of them despite claiming a tight decision in their first meeting.
"He did tweet saying 'don't have excuses' where I felt like he had more excuses when he got his hand raised [last time]," Volkanovski said.
"The biggest excuse that I heard was the fact that they didn't have 10 extra hours [to make weight]. How are we using that as an excuse? You're that big that you can't rehydrate in 30-something hours? You need 40 or whatever it's going to be? It's not a real good excuse.
"He's got a lot of time to rehydrate, but he remembers what happened last time and how we left that fight. Put it this way, if the roles were reversed this fight is one hundred per cent not happening. He's not fighting on 12 days' notice.
"If I didn't take this opportunity, he fights Charles [Oliveira] and wants to move up... I don't ever get a chance to have that rematch. That was a big reason why I needed to do this as well."
Makhachev has looked noticeably gaunt again this week, but it's not something the Aussie is reading too much into.
"I seen him a little bit yesterday, he didn't look too happy, but that's expected," Volkanovski said.
"Even when I'm doing the decent weight cuts, I'm usually pretty upbeat and going through the process, but some people just hate it. I don't take any of that in. I'm sure he's like that every fight week."
Volkanovski feels his own willingness to drop more than 12 kilos in just 11 days ahead of Saturday's weigh-in illustrates his ability to manage a simultaneous reign over the 145 and 155-pound divisions should he claim victory on Sunday.
While the UFC has seen eight two-division champions, only three have reigned over two divisions simultaneously, while Amanda Nunes is the only champion to have won a title at a higher division and returned to a lower weight class and defend.
It's what Volkanovski is aiming to do, with the 35-year-old planning to meet his pre-scheduled featherweight obligations against rising star Ilia Topuria in January despite the company's reticence to have champions campaigning in two divisions.
Volkanovski said that's something he's planning to change.
"The last six light [or] featherweight fights, I've been there to fight every single one," Volkanovski said.
"A lot of people want to talk about 'can I keep two divisions busy', I've stepped up for every light and featherweight fight for over a year. I've been here ready to fight. I missed out on one [as a back-up] but I still turned up there to make weight.
"I can make weight and part of my legacy [is] I want that second belt. I understand what [the UFC] want to do, they're [saying] 'come on, we don't want to hold two divisions' but I think I'm proving that I wouldn't.
"Obviously I want to do January. I want go out here, I want to be double-champ. There's a lot of exciting fights at lightweight, but I want to keep two divisions busy.
"I don't think we've had many people do that. It's obviously a difficult thing to do but I think that can add a lot to my legacy as well so that's something I definitely want to do."
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