This UFC 294 card set to take place from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this Saturday is going to be one for the ages. The leadup to the event, including a short notice replacement in both the co-main and main events, has been nothing short of intriguing.
In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski is stepping up to replace the injured Charles Oliveira to take on Islam Makhachev for the second time in 2023–challenging for his lightweight title. Volkanovski is the current featherweight champion of the UFC, but he has his eyes set on becoming one of the few double champions.
Whenever you can watch and bet on the #1 and #2 pound-for-pound fighters in the world, it’s a special time. Let’s discuss how this main event bout might play out and if there are any more interesting bets to make on this weekend’s card.
Main Event – Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski II
The first meeting between these two world champions was widely discussed across the MMA universe. Many people thought Volkanovski was robbed of being crowned double-champ, but Makhachev won fair and square on the scorecards.
After watching the tape back of that first fight, it’s pretty clear that Volkanovski came up short–no pun intended. The rowdy Australian crowd and the commentary played a big part in the viewer’s experience of how that fight played out.
This is a very tough matchup for Volkanovski. He is the smaller fighter; he’s coming off of recent elbow surgery, and this is a short-notice fight without a proper training camp to condition his body.
It’s hard to bet against the fan-favorite, but we can’t forget just how great Makhachev is. He is much like his cousin Khabib, but with a way better striking skill set. He finished Oliveira last year in a way we haven’t seen any of the top contenders do.
With the ability to learn from his mistakes in the first meeting, make adjustments, and now get to fight in a place where he’s comfortable and with all of his supporters, Islam Makhachev is going to show a different level of a lightweight champion.
Plain and simple, the smart bet is to take Makhachev winning inside the distance on Saturday afternoon.
Other Key Fight Picks
The best part about this UFC 294 event might be the co-main event bout. Long-time welterweight boogeyman and world champion Kamaru Usman steps up on short notice to take on the most dangerous contender the UFC potentially has ever seen. Sign us up.
It’s tough to bet against Khamzat Chimaev in this one, with his size and the health concerns hovering over Usman’s knees. But if you are feeling lucky and want to bang the book, take Usman to win this one by decision. He has the jab, the experience, and the MMA grappling skills to shock the MMA world at the age of 36, coming off of two losses.
Lastly, a key fight to bet on is the light heavyweight top contender showdown in the fight before the co-main. Johnny Walker is coming in as a massive underdog against the #2 ranked contender Magomed Ankalaev.
Ankalaev is coming off a long layoff and a lackluster performance in his first shot at the title last year. Walker is finally coming into his own and will have a great game plan from the SBG Ireland coaching staff.
Taking Walker here is a big risk, but he’s got the physical advantages and the power to be the big underdog winner on the PPV portion of UFC 294. He has an even better chance of winning than Usman does in the co-main.