UFC insanity as Volkanovski is DENIED a late callup to replace Conor McGregor while Robert Whittaker’s opponent pulls out of Saudi slugfest

  • Two major UFC events have been plunged into chaos 
  • McGregor withdrawal confirmed on Friday 
  • Volkanovski was denied the chance to fight Chandler 
  • Whittaker has been handed a dangerous new opponent 

UFC Saudi Arabia and UFC 303 are in shambles, with two Australian fighters at the centre of the chaos. 

After days of speculation, UFC CEO Dana White confirmed that Conor McGregor will not compete at UFC 303 due to injury. 

This leaves Michael Chandler without an opponent, and Aussie Alexander Volkanovski, who had offered to step in at the last minute, has been overlooked.

The main event for UFC 303 will now feature UFC light heavyweight champ Alex Pereira defending against Jiri Procházka in a rematch. 

The co-main event will be a featherweight bout between Brian Ortega and rising star Diego Lopes.

Volkanovski had earlier declared his willingness to step up on short notice to fight Chandler if McGregor pulled out.

‘One hundred per cent. I’ve done it before,’ Volkanovski said. 

Conor McGregor’s UFC returned had been much hyped, but he withdrew late through injury

Aussie Alex Volkanovski offered to step in to replace McGregor but was denied the shot

Aussie Alex Volkanovski offered to step in to replace McGregor but was denied the shot

Volkanovski stepped in last October on 11 days’ notice to fight UFC lightweight champ Islam Makhachev, though he was knocked out in the first round.

‘Last time I couldn’t pull the trigger, but mark my words this time I will,’ Volkanovski said. 

Despite his confidence, the UFC decided to remove both McGregor and Chandler from the card. 

Meanwhile, the UFC Saudi Arabia card, scheduled for June 22, has also been heavily impacted with Australian Robert Whittaker’s opponent Khamzat Chimaev withdrawing due to a severe illness. 

‘Unfortunately Khamzat Chimaev is out of the fight next weekend in Saudi Arabia. He’s violently ill. So he’s going back home and hopefully he gets well soon,’ UFC boss Dana White confirmed.

Aussie fighter Robert Whittaker has a new opponent after Khamzat Chimaev withdrew through illness

Aussie fighter Robert Whittaker has a new opponent after Khamzat Chimaev withdrew through illness

Chimaev’s replacement is Russian prospect Ikram Aliskerov who boasts an impressive record.

‘Ikram Aliskerov is 15-1, his only loss was to Khamzat Chimaev. He’s on a seven-fight win streak with a 73 per cent finish rate,’ White said.

Aliskerov has finished 11 of his 15 wins, with seven first-round finishes. 

‘We offered everybody in the division this fight and nobody would take it except for Robert Whittaker. The main event is bad a**, this should be a great fight and Khamzat, get well soon my friend,’ White said.

Whittaker, a former middleweight world champion, simply responded to the news with: ‘Anyone Anywhere Anytime.’

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk