Champs Collide in UFC 294 Main Event Saturday
The UFC is about to break for a Halloween recess but not before one last treat is handed out in the bag in the spooky season. This Saturday, Dana White‘s traveling show returns to the United Arab Emirates, where the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi plays host to UFC 294.
It’ll be a full day of fights, so be prepared to wake up early for the action, particularly if you’re watching from inside the United States. Undercard fights begin at just past 10 am/ 7 am PT on ESPN+ and ESPNEWS. Main card fights follow at 2 pm ET/ 11 am PT over ESPN+ pay-per-view.
International viewers are advised to consult their local listings for the network and broadcast time in their region. Absent of any postponements between now and Saturday, the final version of UFC 294 features 13 fights.
Champ vs. Champ in UFC 294 Main Event
Highlighting the day’s activities is a battle between two champions for supremacy at 155 lbs. in the UFC 294 main event. Incumbent UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev (24-1 MMA, 13-1 UFC) squares off against a new opponent when he takes on current UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-2 MMA, 13-1 UFC).
As with all UFC championship bouts, the UFC 294 main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close out the show and the promotion’s schedule for October.
This is a rematch of a fight between Makhachev and Volkanovski from UFC 284 back in February. That night, Makhachev scored a unanimous decision victory against Volkanovski after five rounds. How will the rematch play out?
Champ vs Champ. Part II.
Saturday at 2pmET / 11amET – live on ESPN+ PPV!
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UFC 294 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the UFC 294 main event on Saturday night, Islam Makhachev stands as the taller man at 5-foot-10, compared to the 5-foot-6 frame of Alexander Volkanovski. The latter owns a one-inch reach advantage (71 1/2 inches to 70 1/2 inches) over the former, with Makhachev owning a 3 1/2-inch leg reach advantage (40 1/2 inches to 36 inches even) over Volkanovski.
As of late Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Islam Makhachev installed as a -265 favorite on the money line, with Alexander Volkanovski countering as a +210 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening over the weekend, please wager responsibly.
Can Makhachev Ride Winning Streak to a Lucky 13?
Islam Makhachev enters the UFC 294 main event having gone 5-0 in his last five fights. It’s all part of a larger winning streak of 12 fights in a row.
Prior to the original bout vs. Volkanovski, Makhachev scored a third-round submission (arm-triangle choke) of Charles Oliveira (34-9, 1 NC MMA, 22-9, 1 NC UFC) in UFC 280 one year ago. Those two fighters were slated to collide with one another again in the UFC 294 main event.
A week and a half before fight night, however, Oliveira was forced to withdraw from this Saturday’s card due to picking up a cut above his eye while in training camp for the bout, although its authenticity has come into question in recent days.
Upon the rematch with Volkanovski being finalized, Makhachev went on DC & RC with UFC Hall of Fame inductee Daniel Cormier to talk about the switch in opponent.
“New opponent, same goal,” Makhachev said. He believes that the paycheck might be the true reason why Volkanovski took the bout.
“I think the UFC called him and said ‘Hey, we’ll give you good money, man. Jump to the fight,’ and that’s it.”
Whether or not money was the reason as to how and why Makhachev vs. Volkanovski II came into being remains to be seen. Can Makhachev win two in a row over his new opposition in the UFC 294 main event?
Tune in and find out.
Volkanovski’s Legacy at Stake in UFC 294 Main Event
In the other corner, Alexander Volkanovski has posted a record of 4-1 in his last five fights. Most recently, he returned to the win column with a third-round knockout (right cross followed by ground and pound shots) of Yair Rodriguez (16-4, 1 NC MMA, 10-3, 1 NC UFC) in July during UFC 290′s main event.
During the final countdown to Saturday’s fight, Volkanovski has said that this main event has higher stakes than a championship belt.
“Obviously, and a lot of people, like, it’s still a risk in the fact that my legacy [is] on the line,” he said. “Such a close fight [last time], you know. A lot of people thought I won. If I go out there, take this risk and things don’t go to plan, everyone’s just going to, you know, that me getting that shot again is gone. So, there’s a lot on the line for me.”
Will Volkanovski rise to the occasion on Saturday? Only time will tell.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC 294 main event looks to favour Islam Makhachev, a black belt in Judo International and a Master of Sport in Combat Sambo, compared to Alexander Volkanovski’s status as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Makhachev Can Hunt for the Submission
When Islam Makhachev scores the win by stoppage, it happens most often by submission. Thus, should Makhachev get his opponent on the mat, like he did against Dan Hooker, it could only be a matter of time.
Upon Makhachev landing the takedown, he grappled effectively with Hooker and secured his right leg. From there, Makhachev locked Dan Hooker’s hands up and applied the torque to finish the kimura.
All it takes for Islam Makhachev to end the UFC 294 main event in style is a single takedown.
Watch for Volkanovski to Land the Big Punches
In the other corner, Alexander Volkanovski is known for scoring the knockout in spectacular fashion. Just watch the second round of his fight against Chad Mendes.
While the fighters exchanged blows at the start, Mendes briefly turned into the aggressor, knocking Volkanovski down. When Mendes recovered some of his energy, Volkanovski landed a few strikes before the former completed a takedown.
As the round neared its end, this was now Volkanovski’s fight to win. A barrage of repeated strikes took Mendes down and out with less than a minute left on the clock.
Look for Alexander Volkanovski to come out swinging in the UFC 294 main event. A single punch landed on the button could give him the opening he needs to come away with the win.
This is a brilliant fight on paper. Hopefully, the main event will live up to the advanced billing.
Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski by Unanimous Decision.