Islam Makhachev thinks Alexander Volkanovski should rest after UFC 294 – not push for January return

ABU DHABI – Alexander Volkanovski is itching to get back in the octagon and wants to stay active. But Islam Makhachev doesn’t think it’s such a great a idea.

Makhachev and Volkanovski fought for a second time Saturday in the main event of UFC 294 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) knocked out Volkanovski (26-2 MMA, 13-1 UFC) with a head kick in the first round of their lightweight championship fight.

After the contest, Volkanovski revealed he was struggling mentally with not being busy, which helped prompt his decision to take the rematch on just 12 days’ notice. The featherweight champion also said he wants to return in January to defend his belt against unbeaten contender Ilia Topuria.

Makhachev doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

“He has to (take a break),” Makhachev told reporters at the UFC 294 post-fight press conference. “He has a big cut on his eye. He (took) a very good kick. That’s why he has to take some rest – 100 percent.

“If he’s smart, if his team is smart, he has to take a couple of months rest because this is not like I choked him or body kick. This was a head kick. Not just his coach, but his doctor and his team have to make (that) decision.”

As far as Makhachev’s finish, the Dagestani fighter knew that he was eventually going to knock someone out with a head kick, and he thought that Volkanovski was a good candidate for that shot.

“My coach always said, ‘Hey, you have a good head kick,'” Makhachev said. “I always try to land that kick when I fight. In my mind, I always think, ‘When is this kick going to land?’ I know I kick very well and for the opponent like Volkanovski who’s a little bit short, the best plan was to land some kick. When you have a short opponent, it’s easy to land.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie