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UFC Saudi Arabia bout in jeopardy after Sergei Pavlovich, Alexander Volkov blindsided by fight announcement

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Earlier this week, a Heavyweight bout between top contenders Alexander Volkov and Jailton Almeida was reportedly booked for UFC 302. That bout was reported by legitimate journalists and sources, but a day later, Volkov vs. Sergei Pavlovich was instead announced for UFC Saudi Arabia.

What happened?

Per Eurosport’s Marcel Dorff, the Almeida vs. Volkov fight was indeed the plan until a last-second change in direction. The problem with that sudden decision? Volkov and Pavlovich have been training together for years, and neither athlete know anything about the fight being booked! Russian media outlet Red Fury MMA reports that both teams were surprised and upset by the announcement.

In addition, a source told RingSide24 the following: “Volkov and Pavlovic were not going to fight each other, they are on good terms, periodically train together. Such a fight is only possible if it is a UFC Saudi Arabia bout in jeopardy after Sergei Pavlovich, Alexander Volkov blindsided by fight announcement challenger or title fight. Volkov also already had a contract in hand for a fight against Brazilian Jailton Almeida. Now there will be negotiations between the league and managers to have the fight between Volkov and Pavlovic canceled.”

My Russian isn’t great, but it doesn’t take much bilingual ability to read between the lines here: UFC announced another fight that wasn’t signed. How else would the athletes involved be “surprised” by the announcement? It’s hardly the first time, as this is a well-established tactic to pressure fighters into accepting bouts or terms.

It happened to Dustin Poirier.

Stay tuned for further updates and official confirmation one way or another, but I wouldn’t advise getting too excited for Volkov vs. Pavlovich just yet.

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