Makhachev faces Alexander Volkanovski on Saturday in a champion vs. champion collision of the two top-ranked pound-for-pound fighters in MMA. It’s only the seventh meeting between two reigning champions in UFC history, and it’s being held in Volkanovski’s native home of Australia, with the card set to take place in Perth’s RAC Arena.
But Makhachev isn’t exactly feeling the love. Ahead of the contest, the lightweight champ was critical of the UFC’s promotion of the card in an interview with RSports Russia, stating that more could’ve been done to market UFC 284. He wondered why he’d only seen Volkanovski once in the lead-up to the bout. He also questioned a lack of press events in North America.
In addition, a clip went viral after UFC Vegas 69’s post-fight press conference in which White seemingly forgot the name of the UFC lightweight champion.
On Tuesday, White addressed Makhachev’s comments on The Jim Rome Show.
“Yeah, that’s not true,” the UFC exec said. “First of all, I’ve talked to Islam. First of all, who interviewed him? Who translated for him? I mean, the guy speaks Russian. Taken out of context.
“First of all, he lives in Dagestan. What does he know about what’s going on for the promotion of the fight? He doesn’t know anything. It’s going to be one of the top-five biggest fights of all-time. First of all, the event sold out. Right? You couldn’t get a ticket if you wanted to get a ticket in Perth. And this thing is trending right now to be the biggest pay-per-view event in Australia, which, it’s like six percent behind the Conor McGregor [vs. Dustin] Poirier 3 fight. It’s probably going to break the record. So to say that the fight hasn’t been [promoted], that’s just ridiculous. That’s what you call some internet BS.”
White credited Makhachev for being willing to travel to enemy territory and put his belt on the line in Volkanovski’s home country, and he hailed Makhachev vs. Volkanovski as “one of the top-five biggest fights ever in UFC history, as far as gate, pay-per-view.”
Still, many pundits within MMA have echoed Makhachev’s remarks about a lack of promotion for UFC 284, with some comparing the UFC’s glut of Power Slap posts on social media in recent weeks alongside its relative dearth of content geared around UFC 284.
Ironically, nearly four minutes of White’s seven-minute interview with Rome focused on White’s Power Slap league and the criticism the UFC president has faced for promoting a competition in which athletes are disallowed from protecting themselves from head trauma. White said he has heard those critics, and he wholly rejects their concerns.
“First of all, there’s nobody bigger on health and safety than me,” White said.
“Even if you can defend yourself, in boxing guys take 400 to 600 punches per fight. These guys take three slaps or less during an event. [From] 2001 to 2023, you know how many people have died in the UFC or been seriously injured? Zero. [From] 2001 to 2023, you know how many people have died in boxing? Thirty-four. So you’re talking about the wrong sport here.”