After going five hard rounds at UFC 284 in Perth, Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) was able to stop Volkanovski with a first-round head kick knockout in their title-fight rematch this past Saturday at Etihad Arena.
“There was unclarity,” Mendez told Submission Radio of their first fight. “I wanted it to be clear and definitive. You know, hey, it’s over, move on, that’s it. I wanted that for that reason for me personally, and obviously for Islam – but me, too. I wanted to, ‘Hey, we won that fight’ – like I always said, turn off the music on the first fight and then look at it objectively and see who landed the better strikes, see who had the more control. But it was a great fight.”
Although Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) stepped in on less than two weeks’ notice to replace Charles Oliveira, Mendez says the way Makhachev finished Volkanovski early closed their chapter.
“I’ll tell you what, in all honesty, I’m glad it didn’t go more than one round, because then there was going to be doubt again – not enough training, not enough this, not enough that,” Mendez said. “You can’t say nothing off of this – cannot. It’s just: Hey, question solved. Move on.
“Let’s let them both move on to the next chapter in their great fighting careers and create that great legacy that both of them have. Both of them have a great legacy. You can’t do nothing but love Alex. You really can’t. He is such a lovable guy. In defeat, in victory, he is still a lovable guy – very, very respectful family man. I have nothing but the most admiration for him.”
UFC CEO Dana White expressed interest in rebooking Makhachev vs. Oliveira 2, but Makhachev didn’t seem too keen due to the dominant way he beat him at UFC 280. Mendez thinks Oliveira may have missed out on his opportunity for now.
“I have never talked to Islam about that, but based on the interviews, I think Charles is going to have to get on that horse,” Mendez said. “I think it’s a sad thing that he missed that great opportunity. I don’t know how he got that cut, but I would hope to think that he was probably wearing headgear. I make my guys wear headgear for that very reason. You may not be going hard, but anything accidental, a head to a head causes easily cuts like that.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.