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Is it time for the UFC to make a tournament, for the featherweights next year?

With Alex Volkanovski recently confirming he will now be the back up fighter for the main event on UFC 280: Oliviera vs Makachev, is this now the time for the UFC to shake things up and create a featherweight tournament for a interim belt next year (2023)?. “We’re locked in as the backup fighter,” Volkanovski said. “I’ve been calling for it, I said I wanted it. I just had to make sure the hand was all good. We’re all good, got the clearance to fight.", this must indicate that the UFC, see Volkanovski as the next number one contender for the lightweight belt, if Oliviera vs Makachev goes ahead, which means Volk will more than likely fight the winner of this fight mid 2023, rightfully so after defending his featherweight title an impressive four times, which now leads to the question what happens to this stacked featherweight division if Volkanovski is going to be staying at lightweight, for the next year?

As of writing this article we currently have these fights booked in for this year, for the featherweight division;

UFC Fight Night: (Ranked no.8)Kattar (23-6) vs. (Ranked no.5)Allen (18-1).
UFC Fight Night: (Ranked no.11)Bryce Mitchell (15-0) vs (Ranked no.7)Movsar Evloev (16-0)

So to completely set this thing up we will have to see how these two killer fights will play out, but in hypothetical sense, let's just say we take the two winners of these fights (Allen and Mitchell for example), put them along side 6 more fighters, we now have 8 fighters in this featherweight division that would qualify for this tournament bracket, so the 8 fighters we'd have for example;
Max Holloway
Yair Rodriguez
Josh Emmett
Arnold Allen (if he wins)
Brian Ortega
Bryce Mitchell (if he wins)
Chan Sung Jung
Giga Chikadze

So now we have the fighters, if we kickstarted this tournament off early next year, you could put 2 of these fights on 1 card and repeat the process, for example...

UFC card in Febuary;

Holloway vs Emmett
Rodriguez vs Chikadze

Next UFC card in March;

Allen vs Chan Sung Jung
Ortega vs Mitchell

Next UFC card in July;

Holloway vs Rodriguez
Allen vs Ortega

Next UFC card in November;

Rodriguez vs Allen - for interim title

This is all about timing, I believe UFC see Volkanovski as the next lightweight number one contender, which means he will not fight in that lightweight division until at least March 2023, Then when/if the current featherweight champ returns to featherweight in early 2024, which is what I believe (due to having more of a weight cut from lightweight to featherweight), you set the final match up in March, interim vs reigning champ. I for one would love to see the UFC bring back these tournament style match ups, as much as this sport and brand is thriving, I think adding tournaments to the mix will only help them as a brand and organization.

Top comments (9)

lee profile image

Here's a good list of reasons why the UFC doesn't do tournaments

I'd love to see 5 counter arguments.. As a fan I would love it, I sorta get it from a business perspective.

Seems to be working out for the PFL as they get to stand out (not sure what the finances look like behind the scenes tho)

louisingro profile image

Just gave this article a very quick read through, I must admit I disagree with most of the article, so counter argument for their point 1 which is "Getting Everyone Together", I mean my article literally covered how you could make this happen in the space of a year or more due to the champ going up in weight. Point number two they have is "Alternates", now this is a point I half agree with, its true most cards/fights have at least one fighter pull out due to injury etc, but a simple fix is if this does happen you void the fight and the fighter that turns up goes through, we've seen many times that the UFC can make quick work for last minute replacement fights. Point number 3 "Flukes and Freak Accidents", this literally happens all the time, 2 much anticipated fights for me this year was both Ortega vs Yair, Aspinall vs Blyades, both of them ended in the first round via freak injury, they were both main events, the point I'm making in this sport particular this type of stuff is bound to happen, regardless in a tournament style match up or the usual fighting order, so I personally don't see this being a valid point on why they wouldn't do tournaments. The third point they make "No Rematches Allowed", on this point they focus the attention on bad judge scoring and how it would be unfair for a fighter to proceed of a bad judge call, yet again this happens all the time regardless, the judging system has to be fixed, tournament or no tournament. "What if the fight is a draw?", this is the most validated point when talking about tournaments, in this instance I'm sure they can come up with a ruling, fighter with most knockdowns continues on, or an extra round to take place etc, but once again draws in this game are very rare. "Wiping Out a Division", the final point is in the title, they talk about how a whole division could be wiped if a tournament would be made, well considering Volk has beaten 3 in the top 10 (winning 3 times against Max also), it currently seems that there are no standout number one contenders, so the argument can be made that he's already wiped the division out hence why he's aiming for success in the division above. In summary I agree that I don't think the UFC will do a tournament, but I feel they really are missing a trick here, I mean if its good enough for the ultimate fighter it can be good enough for the stars of UFC.

anirbularee_571 profile image
Anir Bularee

I mean if its good enough for the ultimate fighter it can be good enough for the stars of UFC.

Nailed it here I think. Might even work in favour if they injected a bit of excitment into the TUF format..

Thread Thread
louisingro profile image

Completely agree pal 👍

lee profile image

Bloody hell!

ogaddmma profile image
Ollie Gadd

I think the only issue is that it's going to create some fights we've seen recently and I don't think we need. I don't want to see Max vs Yair again, we had that super recently and it wasn't hugely contested.

I also think Max would probably win it by a mile, and then we're left with Max vs Volk 4 when Volk is 3-0 against the guy and the recent one was a masterclass. It just doesn't feel like it's worth having.

The perfect time for a tournament would have been, imo, when Khabib vacated the LW belt. Or maybe even whenever a champion vacates and retires. That feels like exactly when every fighter should clash for a chance to become the new champion, but Volk is the king and I feel like he'll most likely defend against Yair or Emmett in Perth which should help some new contenders emerge

louisingro profile image

Unfortunately man I think the chances of seeing max vs yair again is more likely without the tournament due to their respected rankings, most of the top ten have had a go at each other so there will be twice over fights regardless. Agree with the vacancy of belts being the right time completely! As much as I hope to see volk on that card I don't see it happening dude, he's very active so I wouldn't be suprised, but that's a hell of a risk, he currently sits pound for pound number 1, with the opportunity to be double champ, is he really going to risk all that just to fight in his own turf 🤷‍♂️

hannahwoking1 profile image

Ah man, can you imagine.. talk about sorting some of the pay issues out…. and the talent, PPV would go through the roof

sindou_kon_75edcb75d7553 profile image
Sindou Koné

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