Amidst sanctions issued by the United Kingdom’s government against Russian athletes, Alexander Volkov’s fight at UFC London could be in jeopardy.
Volkov (34-9 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who’s from Moscow, is slated to headline the event against Tom Aspinall on March 19 at the O2 Arena. But in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.K. home secretary Priti Patel stated that “national sports teams of those countries who are complicit in Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine” will not be welcomed.
I have cancelled the visas of the Belarusian Men’s Basketball Team who were due to play in Newcastle tomorrow night.
The UK will not welcome the national sports teams of those countries who are complicit in Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of #Ukraine.
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) February 26, 2022
In a statement to Sherdog, Volkov’s manager, Ivan Bannikov, said that his client has obtained the U.K. visa, and the status of his fight is currently unknown.
“The visa has been issued,” Bannikov said. “All will depend on any new sanctions. But at this moment, this is all unimportant, as our thoughts are of the people dying in Ukraine, on both sides. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
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UFC president Dana White was also asked about the status of both Volkov and interim bantamweight champion Petr Yan, who’s scheduled to unify his belt with Aljamain Sterling in April at UFC 273. White said he tried to get Volkov to fly to the U.K. sooner than scheduled, but the heavyweight contender wasn’t interested.
“We’re trying to get him into England sooner so he can fight,” White told TSN. “When things like this start blowing up, we start looking at potential problems and what possibilities are, and we try to get around them. We try to figure out, ‘If that’s going to happen, let’s get these guys into England earlier.’ I know that we’ve been trying to get Volkov to leave Russia, and he hasn’t wanted to.”
He continued, “Like I tell you guys all the time, just when you think the world’s about to get normal again, it gets even nuttier. So we’ll see how it works out. You keep asking me questions like, ‘Will Conor McGregor fight for the title when he comes back in the fall?’ I don’t know what’s going on in the fall. When the fall comes, we’ll see what’s happening. ‘If Petr Yan cannot get into the country?’ I have no idea what’s going to happen with Russia and all these other things. I don’t know.”
Photos: Alexander Volkov through the years
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