Makchaev and Chimaev stay undefeated at UFC 294
UFC 294 from Abu Dhabi is officially in the books. It was a card that saw tons of reconstruction over the last 11 days. The original card was turned upside down when both challengers Charles Olivera and Paulo Costa called out with injury. UFC turned to two big named former and current champions on just 11 days' notice. First former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (20-3) agreed to take on rising phenom Khazmat Chimaev (13-0). And current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanowski (26-3) agreed to take on current lightweight champion Islam Makchaev (25-1).
On paper this was one of the most stacked cards the UFC could put together on short notice. The main event which saw champ vs champ was a highly anticipated rematch.Volk and Makchaev fought earlier this year with Makchaev pulling off the victory in a split decision with many observers feeling like Volkankowski won. Saturday’s fight Makchaev left no doubt in anyone’s mind as he scored an impressive knockout via head kick in round 1. Makchaev setup his shot perfectly as he took advantage of his height advantage. After landing the hard kick the champion struck with numerous hard hammer fists to close the show.
After the fight Makchaev shared a beautiful message with the crowd asking for less war and more peace. Makchaev expressed to the crowd that he stands with his Palestein brothers and sisters while carrying the flag in the ring. He also mentioned his willingness to fight anyone in the division, rather it was his previous opponent Charles Olivera or current BMF champion Justin Gaetjche. As for Volkanovski he’s still the featherweight champ and begged the UFC to keep him active he said he would like to fight in January against Illia Topuria.
In the co-main event former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was all heart as it looked like Chimaev was going to get him out early, controlling the entire round being out wrestled by the young prodigy. However, there’s a reason why Usman is a former pound-for-pound champion and a future hall of famer. On just 11 days' notice, Usman pushed the undefeated Chimaev to the brink over the next two rounds. In the end, Chimaev was able to edge out a majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28). Had the fight been a five rounder Usman could have clearly won. The first round was a clear 10-8 round for Chimaev. Chimaev looked like he was pacing himself in the second round and Usman landed some good strikes landing some combinations.
The third round was similar, but Chimaev was able to get a takedown with about two minutes left and keep Usman there until the waning seconds. When Usman got to his feet, the two engaged in a wild exchange until the bell. Usman showed a great deal of heart, moving up in weight and fighting on short notice. Chimaev’s original opponent at UFC 294 Paulo Costa needed surgery on an infected bursa on his elbow last month and then two more surgeries. The UFC called Jared Cannonier to fill in, but he got hurt last week, too. Usman, the former UFC welterweight champion, nearly pulled off the upset on short notice. Chimaev, 29, is now 7-0 in the UFC, which is tied for the most wins without a loss among active UFC fighters with Tatiana Suarez and Movsar Evloev. The Chechen fighter outlanded Usman 38-36 in significant strikes.
Chimaev is now pegged as the next middleweight belt challenger to new champ Sean Strickland.