Random Land! 18 Tidbits, Facts And Storylines | UFC 294
After back-to-back run-of-the-mill events inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada — where two Octagon veterans took out young lions — Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels cautiously to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for an absolutely stacked pay-per-view (PPV) card. In UFC 294’s main event, Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, rematches Featherweight kingpin, Alexander Volkanovski, while Khamzat Chimaev takes on former Welterweight roost-ruler, Kamaru Usman, in the co-headliner.
Indeed, UFC 294 is loaded top to bottom with fun fights, so before it all goes down tomorrow evening (special 2 p.m. main card start time), let’s check out some random storylines, tidbits and statistics ahead of showtime …
Running It Back
Okay, let’s start with the obvious: Makhachev and Volkanovski are running it back after their “Fight of the Year” earlier this year, which the Russian won via close unanimous decision. The only difference this time is that Volkanovski is stepping in on less than two weeks notice.
Will the second fight live up to their epic first showdown?
UFC 284 —> UFC 294
It will be exactly 10 PPV events since Makhachev vs. Volkanovski went to war at UFC 284. mixed martial arts (MMA) always has weird timing …
Nothing (And Everything) To Lose
Volkanovski is risking a lot when he steps into the Octagon this weekend. On one hand, if he loses, he has a built-in excuse that he had no time to train for Makhachev properly. On the other hand, if he loses, he will never get another shot at Makhachev and his 155-pound run at “double champion” legacy will come to a disastrous end.
In short, the stakes are high!
Welcome Back, “Borz”
When Khamzat enters the cage, it will be 13 months since his last fight. He was last in action against Kevin Holland at UFC 279 and ran through him in less than three minutes. It has been a very long 403 days, mainly because Chimaev got all of his fame for fighting three times in 66 days (winning them all).
Not only is he returning to action, but he is now in his new permanent weight class: Middleweight.
For the first time in Usman’s legendary Welterweight career, he will fight up a weight class at Middleweight. Usman has competed at Welterweight 22 times (he competed in a Catchweight before UFC at 180 pounds). The former 170-pound champion teased a move to Middleweight, but revealed he didn’t want to go up as long as Israel Adesanya is champion.
No. 1 Contender Fight
Last week, UFC CEO, Dana White, revealed that the winner of Usman vs. Chimaev will challenge Sean Strickland for the Middleweight championship, which makes the stakes of the fight this weekend gigantic.
Does it make sense? Absolutely not. First, both men are not ranked in the Middleweight Top 15 and neither have defeated a ranked 185-pound contender. Second, other options exist — a.k.a. Dricus Du Plessis … or even Jared Cannonier (if he beats Roman Dolidze on Dec. 2).
Usman had another very short-notice fight in Abu Dhabi. At UFC 251, Jorge Masvidal stepped in on less than one week’s notice to challenge for the Welterweight strap, but dropped a clear unanimous decision to “Nigerian Nightmare.”
Chimaev had an even shorter notice fight (one day), but it wasn’t in Abu Dhabi. He faced Holland in his last outing.
Another Switch Up
Besides UFC 294’s main- and co-main events, another fight on the PPV portion had a switch-up. Top prospect, Ikram Aliskerov, is now facing UFC veteran, Warlley Alves, after Nassourdine Imavov had to pull out due to visa issues, which sucks because it was an incredible fight and a significant step up for Aliskerov.
Strange Main Card Opener
I’m just going to be blunt: why is Said Nurmagomedov vs. Muin Gafurov opening up the PPV show? Sure, it’s a fun fight, but they are both coming off losses. Meanwhile, one of the top prospects in the organization, Muhammad Mokaev, is one fight prior, and he is fighting a wild man, Tim Elliott.
Sure, I can see the argument that more people will see Mokaev vs. Elliott because it will be on ESPN; however, the fight is at 10 a.m., so how many casual fans will be watching?
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box …
“The Punisher” Gets His Shot
Speaking of Mokaev, he finally gets his shot at a Top 15 Flyweight. He faces No. 10-ranked Elliott, someone he called out. At just 23 years old, Mokaev’s ceiling in the sport is very high, and most see him as a future champion. His first tough test comes on Saturday.
Mokaev survived a kneebar at UFC 286
I’m surprised he is back so soon; watching it live, I thought he had severely damaged his knee.
He faces Tim Elliott at UFC 294 pic.twitter.com/tR1TEE3ACK
— Ocelot MMA (@Ocelot_MMA) October 18, 2023
Welcome To UFC!
Two fighters make their Octagon debuts at on “Fight Island” this weekend:
- Sharabutdin Magomedov (11-0) faces Bruno Silva to open the card. “Bullet” boasts a 91 percent finish rate and is a very fun striker.
- Mohammad Yahya (12-3) takes on Trevor Peek. Yahya holds a 74 percent finish rate and is the first Emirati to fight inside the Octagon.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Anshul Jubli — the first Indian to win in UFC — returns to action at UFC 294. “King of Lions” won the “Road to UFC” season one Lightweight tournament earlier this year at UFC Vegas 68, finishing Jeka Saragih and earning a UFC contract in the process to become the second Indian fighter in UFC.
He faces Mike Breeden.
Sedriques Dumas and Abu Azaitar are finally throwing down this weekend. They were scheduled to fight at UFC Las Vegas earlier this year; however, Azaitar had visa issues and had to pull out a week before the fight. Dumas would fight Josh Fremd in his UFC debut and lose via submission.
Azaitar is coming off a 31-month layoff.
Javid Gets A Crowd
Top Bantamweight prospect, Javid Basharat, finally gets to experience a sold-out UFC crowd after fighting inside UFC Apex for his first three UFC fights. Undoubtedly, a crowd changes everything … and every fighter needs to experience it.
Riding a 14-fight win streak, Basharat faces Victor Henry in a 135-pound showdown.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Fighter To Watch
Replacing “Banger of the Week” this week is “Fighter to Watch.”
While the one-eyed Magomedov is definitely someone to keep an eye on … Russian Strawweight Victoria Dudakova is our pick.
She is undefeated (7-0) and holds an 84 percent finish rate. She is coming off a brutal technical knockout win where Istela Nunes dislocated her elbow (watch highlights).
Winners And Losers
Sixteen fighters are coming off wins, while nine are coming off losses. One fighter is coming off a draw (Magomed Ankalaev).
Here are the divisions that will be on display this Saturday:
- One Light Heavyweight fight
- Four Middleweight fights
- Three Lightweight fights
- One Featherweight fight
- Two Bantamweight fights
- One men’s Flyweight fight
- One women’s Strawweight fight
According to DraftKings, the “biggest” underdog at UFC 294 is Alves at +455.
LIVE! Watch UFC 294 PPV On ESPN+ Here!
MASSIVE ’SUPER’ FIGHT REMATCH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its highly anticipated return to “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sat., Oct. 21, 2023, with a re-worked “Champion vs. Champion” rematch inside Etihad Arena. In the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Lightweight roost-ruler, Islam Makhachev, runs it back on just 11 days notice opposite Featherweight kingpin, Alexander Volkanovski, in another 155-pound showdown. In UFC 294’s intriguing Middleweight co-main event, Dagestani wrecking ball, Khamzat Chimaev, welcome former Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, to the 185-pound weight class (on short notice, too).
Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 294 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 294: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2” news and notes, be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.