UFC featherweight contender Yair Rodríguez earned a quick, albeit controversial, win over Brian Ortega at UFC Long Island last Saturday. He was expected to potentially get the next shot at Volkanovski if he earned a win over Ortega.
Talks of an interim title bout between Rodríguez and Josh Emmett began immediately following the event. Emmett most recently defeated Calvin Kattar and called for a shot at Volkanovski’s belt.
But Volkanovski could be sidelined for a bit, which could allow the top contenders to fight for an interim title in the meantime.
In his UFC Long Island post-fight press conference, White was asked about Volkanovski’s health status and whether or not an interim title bout would make sense.
“Volkanovski I think is going to have surgery on his hand,” White said. “I think there’s something wrong with his hand. … You’re asking if [Rodriguez vs. Emmett for an interim title is] a possibility? I like it. I don’t hate it.” (h/t MMA Fighting)
Volkanovski revealed that he suffered a hand injury during his most recent win over Max Holloway at UFC 276. He’s expected to miss a few months before potentially challenging for the lightweight title against the Charles Oliveira/Islam Makhachev winner.
Alexander Volkanovski Reacts To Interim Featherweight Title Talk
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Volkanovski gave his two cents on a potential interim title bout.
“I even said that a big win from Yair would get him a shot,” Volkanovski said. “To be honest, you’re probably going to ask about this whole interim belt thing. Dana talking about it and things like that, I’ll do it for you. To be honest, I don’t mind the idea while I’m sitting here. Again, I think it’s looking like me defending that lightweight belt, and there’s no clear number one contender.
“Let them fight for that number one contender, I think they both deserve it. Josh Emmett and Yair Rodriguez they’re both in a position where they could get a shot. Are they screaming out that it needs to be them? No, not really. So, let them fight for that number one contender if it’s for an interim belt. Then we’ll fight, sweet.” (h/t BJ Penn)
The UFC hasn’t booked a featherweight interim title bout since Holloway defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 206. Holloway went on to defeat José Aldo for the unified title at UFC 212.
Volkanovski’s support of an interim title fight suggests he may need an extended period to recover from his hand injury. He suffered a similar injury in his first matchup with Holloway at UFC 245.
The UFC and White could make an announcement on a possible interim title bout in the coming months. In the meantime, Volkanovski has his eyes set on potential ‘champ-champ’ status.
What are your thoughts on Dana White and Alexander Volkanovski’s comments regarding an interim title fight?