UFC 294 is coming to us from Abu Dhabi this Saturday. An early start for fans over in the US, with prelims starting at 10:00 AM EST. Don’t forget to set an alarm because you are not going to want to miss this epic card full of exciting fights!
Originally scheduled to feature the rematch between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira for the lightweight title, It was only 2 weeks ago that we got the disappointing news that lightweight contender Charles Oliveira received a nasty cut above his eye causing him to withdraw from the rematch against Makhachev. Luckily, there is an Australian savage holding the featherweight belt, in Alexander Volkanovski, who looks to once again get a chance at the double champ status that only a few men have conquered before.
Shortly after we got the news of a new main event, we had an issue with the co-main event. What was supposed to be an exciting fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Paolo Costa is now no more. Costa had to be removed due to elbow surgery. Stepping up to the plate is former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to save the fight on short notice. Usman proving how gangster he is by stepping up in weight to fight one of the scariest dudes in the UFC.
With a new main and co-main event somehow Dana White put together an even more exciting card that is sure to deliver. An always electric crowd in Abu Dhabi is in for a treat and I am pumped for what should be a fun Saturday afternoon of violence!
Shara Magomedov vs Bruno Silva
Jumping right into the first fight on the prelims is a middleweight scrap. The highly anticipated UFC debut for Shara Magomedov, as he will put his talents to the test against UFC veteran Bruno Silva. The buzz surrounding Magomedov has been building for a while now and if you’ve watched any of his fights you’d understand why. With an undefeated record of 11-0 he has finished 10 of those fights by KO/TKO and 7 of those fights ending in the very first round. Magomedov’s striking is very impressive. Whether it’s his snappy kicks, quick hands or vicious knees he finds angles and seems to always find his target.
Bruno Silva is looking to bounce back from his most recent loss in June to Brendan Allen. Silva with a 23-9 record has some power of his own, winning 20 fights by KO/TKO. One fight that stands out for Silva is when he took Alex Periera the distance last year. He managed to do what others have proven nearly impossible and that’s eat big shots from an insanely powerful Pereira. Unfortunately for Silva, he hasn’t really looked like himself after that fight. Yes he did beat Brad Tavares in that time, but it was stopped just a tad bit too early by referee Mark Smith. Silva must rely on his defense and experience to wade the storm and hopefully gas Magomedov out in the later rounds if he wants to come out of this fight victorious.
My Pick: Shara Magomedov to win by KO/TKO -120 (1.25u)
Kamaru Usman Vs Khamzat Chimaev
The co-main event of the evening is an absolute banger of a fight. The former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman saves the day as he steps in on short notice to fight a man that a lot of fighters will not step in the octagon with in Khamzat Chimaev. Usman, with a record of 20-3, is coming off of the trilogy loss to Leon Edwards for the welterweight belt earlier this year. Usman, once the pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC, is looking to bounce back in a big way with a win over the undefeated Chimaev. This win would put him back into the conversation and definitely would garner a title fight in either the welterweight or middleweight division. This fight is actually a great fight for Usman stylistically. Usman has phenomenal takedown defense and uses his jab efficiently to deter fighters from rushing him. Usman must dictate the pace of this fight and be the one to lead the dance if he has any hopes of stopping the bully that is Chimaev.
Khamzat is looking to remain undefeated putting his 12-0 record to the test with arguably his toughest fight yet. Yes Usman is coming into this fight on short notice, but that also means Chimaev has little time to prepare for a totally different fighter and style with Usman. Khamzat is used to having his way with opponents being the better striker and grappler in most of his fights. He is comfortable wherever the fight goes and has no problem standing and banging, or using his elite wrestling to take his opponents down in hopes of finding a submission. Chimaev looks focused coming into this fight and reiterates that he is here to “kill everyone” in order to become UFC champion. Although there is no belt on the line for this fight, I do believe Chimaev will have that mentality coming into this fight. If he wins in impressive fashion, I don’t see a way he doesn’t get a shot at the belt next.
My Pick: Khamzat Chimaev to win by KO, TKO, or Submission -120 (2u)
Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski
Although not the rematch we were expecting, Islam vs Volk 2 is set to be as thrilling as the first. The first fight between the two was a back-and-forth war. Islam found success in the first couple of rounds as he does in most of his fights, but Volk showed his undeniable will and determination to push the champ to his limits and had him holding on for dear life to squeak out a decision win for Islam. If this fight is anything like the first, we are in for a treat.
Alexander Volkanovski, the featherweight champ, is looking to get his revenge in this fight. Volk has an uncanny ability to make the right adjustments during, and in between, fights to refine his tools and come back even stronger. After his loss to Islam earlier this year, Volk returned to featherweight to defend his belt, putting on a clinic against the dangerous Yair Rodriguez ultimately finishing him in the third round. Volkanovski is as well-rounded as they come. He proved that he can hang with Islam standing and striking as he landed more strikes than Islam in the first fight. With that being said, has he made the right adjustments to hold his own with Islam in the wrestling aspect? In my opinion, nobody in the UFC can hang with Islam’s grappling so it’s up to Volk to use his fighting IQ to keep this fight standing, survive the first couple of rounds, and implement his relentless pressure and pace in the later rounds when Islam is fatigued to leave his mark on this fight.
Islam Makhachev, who is riding a 12-fight win streak, is looking to keep stacking these wins and catch up to his good friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov in the GOAT status. He proved that he can dominate Volk on the ground and hold him there, but I’m curious to see if adjustments will be made in his striking for this fight. Islam was outstruck in the first meeting between the two and will need to earn some respect from Volk on the feet to make those takedowns he’s going to be looking for easier to find. Islam was successful on four of his nine takedown attempts the first go around but when he did land those takedowns he held Volk down, which was ultimately what got him the decision win. If Islam can replicate this game plan this time and do more damage to Volk when he does get him down, then this should be another win for Makhachev.
This fight is a coin flip for me, as both fighters are too elite to make an easy call. I do see the value in Volkanovski getting +200 odds, but with him taking this fight on such short notice it’s difficult to pull the trigger on him. What I am confident in is that these two men will go out there and leave it all in the octagon. Volk has shown that he can hurt Islam and Islam is looking to leave the judges out of it this time in hopes of closing the book on this very competitive rematch. This fight has the makings of being Fight of the Year and I see one of the two being finished in spectacular fashion.
My Pick: The fight does NOT go the distance -125 (1.25u)
Best Parlay Plays for UFC 294
Parlay +120 (1u)
- Viktoria Dudakova
- Nathaniel Wood
- Ikram Aliskerov
- Magomed Ankalaev
Parlay +1493 (.5u)
- Sedrique Dumas
- Javid Basharat
- Mohammad Yahya
- Khamzat Chimaev by submission