The Featherweight Championship has been a slow mover this past year. The current Champion, Alexander Volkanovski was delighted when Brian Ortega previously beat ‘The Korean Zombie’, as it meant the division was finally moving along. But recently, the title picture has hit another big stumbling block after the Champion tested positive for Covid-19, around a week before his defense at UFC 260.
Adding a spanner into the works next is Zabit Magomedsharipov, who wants a title shot, with the exception of facing Max Holloway, after telling TACC he is moving on from the long awaited bout between himself and Yair Rodriguez.
Magomedsharipov was originally set to fight Yair Rodriguez way back in August 2018, but after an ankle sprain for Rodriguez, it was rescheduled on a number of occasions. Although The matchup has been brewing for years, the two featherweights are still to fight.
“It no longer makes sense to fight Yair Rodriguez. I think this story is over. That fight fell for the fifth time. I have signed the contract to fight him three times, there were also talks another two. Yair first agreed and then refused to fight again,” Magomedsharipov explained to TACC.
“Now I would like to fight against the winner of the fight between Alexander Volkanovski against Brian Ortega or against Max Holloway,” he said.
Magomedsharipov is currently riding a 14 fight win streak, with his most recent win over Calvin Kattar, which is also Max Holloway’s most recent win. However, he has not fought since 2019.
Current Champion, Alexander Volkanovski, was supposed to fight Brian Ortega next at UFC 260, but it was pushed back after Volkanovski tested positive for Covid-19. Because of this setback, its unclear as to when the fight will take place, with no information on rescheduling as of yet. The situation could prove more difficult for Volkanovski than most, who faces a lot of travel restrictions being a native of Australia, who have similar restrictions to New Zealand.
This isn’t just frustrating for Volkanovski and Ortega and their respective teams, but it can also leave Zabit Magomedsharipov and Max Holloway waiting on the sidelines for some time before getting their shot at gold. That is, unless they agree to fight each other in the meantime.
Currently, Holloway is a unique spot. He has already fought Volkanovski and lost twice. However, the second fight was met with much controversy, with many believing Holloway won. Holloway himself stated to ESPN that 90% of the world believed he should’ve been awarded the decision victory.
Volkanovski recently told Submission Radio that the third fight will happen one day, if they’re paid accordingly, because it’s a big fight the fans want to see.
When it comes to Ortega however, Holloway already holds a win over him, and this resulted in Ortega recently saying he won’t feel like a UFC champion until he avenges that loss. So it’s safe to say that Ortega capturing the belt may benefit the Hawaiian’s chances at another title shot.
There are so many directions this title picture could go in: Could we see Magomedsharipov getting a chance at the title? Could Holloway get another chance against Volkanovski? Or could Ortega be up against Holloway with the chance to avenge his loss?