Michael Bisping called the crowd “ridiculous” – and in a good way – as he called out Alexander Volkanovski’s fight with Islam Makhachev at UFC 284.
The noise was deafening. The support was, Volkanovski said in his post-fight press conference, “incredible”. The crowd at the RAC Arena was behind Volkanovski the whole way.
And when it was his opponent and current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev who raised his hand instead, the crowd made it clear that they did not agree with the decision.
Makhachev v. Volkanovski Fighting Highlights | 03:05
“Bulls***,” some sections of the crowd shouted as Makhachev climbed to the microphone to give his address after the fight.
When it came time for Volkanovski to speak, the Australian wanted to make sure his opponent got the respect he deserved.
“I appreciate the support, but let’s give a round of applause to Islam,” he said, elegant as always even in defeat.
The UFC is back down on Sunday for the first time in four years, and the promotion is sure to be back sometime again in 2023 according to Senior Vice President Dave Shaw.
“It was deafening,” Shaw said.
“I feel like I was at a Metallica concert sitting in front of the speakers. It was great. We passed.” [it]a few of us in the back, have been through some truly memorable events over the last 12 months at least.
“You think about London last March and Paris, a few Vegas events, and that’s right there. It was high. I think it was more than 50 percent full before the first fight happened and then 90 percent full during the early preliminaries.
“It’s been a great week after I haven’t been here for over three years.”
While Volkanovski may be powerless with his first shot at dual champion status, the focus for the Australian now is defending the featherweight belt against new interim title holder Yair Rodriguez.
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The Mexican was emotional in his second-round submission to Josh Emmett when he booked a meeting with Volkanovski, though Shaw said details of that fight would be confirmed.
“We haven’t decided yet on what the next event will be,” he said.
“I’m not sure when we’ll be back or this event in particular, but we’ll definitely be here again sometime this year.”
Despite this, Shaw agreed with one reporter’s assessment that the success of this week’s event proved Volkanowski deserved more opportunities to fight in his homeland of Australia, after spending many years defending his belt elsewhere.
“If the question is does it make sense for him to always be here, then there is a great case for the impact he’s had across the country this week,” Xu added.
Pay-per-view purchases tend to be larger than pay-per-view purchases when you fight Connor. Volk’s influence and many others include Jack Della [Maddalena]who also had an amazing performance, I think it makes a lot of sense to come back.”
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