Alexander Volkanovski will defend his featherweight title in a trilogy fight against the in-form Max Holloway, according to reports.
The Australian’s eagerly-awaited grudge match with the Hawaiian will serve as the main event of UFC 272 on March 5.
Former rugby league semi-pro player Volkanovski – who decided to quit playing the sport at the age of 23 to pursue a professional career in mixed martial arts – got the better of The ‘Blessed’ Express, defeating him via unanimous decision.
They then met again a year later where this time ‘The Great’ got his hand raised again courtesy of a split decision on the night.
Holloway has long since maintained he was robbed of a clear victory against Volkanovski, who of course feels the exact opposite.
The Honolulu native suffered his second straight loss to the current UFC featherweight champion in July 2020, despite dropping him twice in the opening two rounds of the fight.
And now he will have the opportunity to exact revenge on the man who stole his crown when they meet for the third and possibly final time later this year with the featherweight title up for grabs.
After the fight, he told MMA Fighting: “I’ve got five title defences and I would like that sixth.
“But, you know, with possible fights and stuff, there are bigger fights that UFC discussed with us.
“I’ve got a win over the 155 champ [Charles Oliveira] right now.
“We’re always on the shortlist for Conor [McGregor] and like I said, that last fight, before we got injured, we were one of the replacement fighters.
“And then, I’m the best boxer in the UFC. So, use your imagination, my friend. It’s a wild world today.”
Volkanovski, however, was quick to point out the amount of damage his chin has taken over the years.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, he said: “Man, Max eats a lot of shots.
“He’s a volume striker, but he’s happy to eat one to give a couple. But, I mean, how long can that last?
“I’m telling you, that chin’s going to go soon. It is going to go soon. You cannot cop that much damage.
“Yeah, they’re talking about 3000 strikes he’s [landed], which is incredible. Clap for that. But he’s probably in the 1000s or 2000s of absorption as well.
“There you go, that’s not healthy. And Conor touched on that actually. Conor makes a good point.
“You talk about being a boxer – it’s hit and not get hit. That’s what makes the best boxer. So, you look at the numbers he’s hitting a lot of numbers, but let’s look at other numbers.
“Let’s look at ratios. Let’s look at how many strikes they’re landing to not landing.
“It doesn’t get more impressive than mine, I don’t think. I think mine would be right up there. But again, you want to talk numbers, let’s talk real numbers.”
The first fight ended in controversial fashion after the Russian landed an illegal knee to the head of his downed opponent.
However, Yan earned his shot at redemption late last year with a clear points win over Cory Sandhagen, while Sterling has been out of action for over a year after undergoing neck surgery.
Yan tweeted: “Friendly reminder that Alga [sic] is my b—-. This time I will destroy this little whiner even more impressive.”
After seeing Yan’s tweet, Sterling responded: “There’s a Christmas ass whooping waiting for Yan, early 2022! See you soon, my Russian nemesis.”