UFC 294 fight week has arrived.
In one of the crazier late event shake-ups in recent memory, the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi has seen the two headliner bouts require fill-ins. The main event went from a big lightweight title fight rematch between the champion Islam Makhachev and former champion Charles Oliveira to a champion vs. champion rematch. Oliveira suffered a bad cut over his eye, resulting in Makhachev’s last opponent, the featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, coming in to again attempt to become a two-weight champion. “The Great” came up short in a thrilling unanimous decision defeat this past February.
As for the co-main event, undefeated superstar Khamzat Chimaev lost his original opponent Paulo Costa to a nasty staph infection on his elbow. Therefore, leading to a shocking replacement in the form of the former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. The bout will be Usman’s first since losing his title and suffering back-to-back losses to Leon Edwards.
“The crazy thing is, I hate being put in this position because this was supposed to be the fight,” Usman told TMZ. “He’s a great, very, very good prospect, contender. He was in my weight class so that fight naturally was what was supposed to happen and I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it. I’ve been ready for it, let’s do it.’ But, of course, some things from his side about not being able to make the weight and also from the UFC side, they have their plans and so the fight didn’t come together.”
The 36-year-old Usman’s future has been in question since his second Edwards defeat in March. Seemingly in a limbo period for as long as “Rocky” holds gold at 170 pounds, this short-notice opportunity won’t be new for Usman who mentioned his first fight with Jorge Masvidal amid the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020. “The Nigerian Nightmare” successfully defended his title in the contest, earning a dominant unanimous decision victory.
Despite the change in weight class, Usman will provide the 12-0 Chimaev with his stiffest test yet.
“He’s definitely very talented,” Usman said. “That’s why there’s a lot of excitement about him. We’ve seen these guys come in and a lot of different guys and you just see something special about him. We all know it. I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it.
“He’s very skilled. He’s strong, he’s big. He’s fast, he can wrestle, he can grapple, he can strike. He has everything but so do I. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. Everybody feels invincible until someone comes in and pokes that balloon.”
Adding both fighters to 185 pounds is a nice boost to the landscape. With several options for new champion Sean Strickland to be challenged by, UFC President Dana White has already said the winner of Usman vs. Chimaev will get the title shot.
While Usman doesn’t plan to leave welterweight permanently, he doesn’t see how anything else could happen next if he hands “Borz” his first loss. It also helps that Usman has a unanimous decision win over Strickland in April 2017.
“I mean, it’s a no-brainer,” Usman said. “Sean Strickland is the champion. I’ve already taken care of him. Not to say he’s not better, he is. But I’ve got a mountain in front of me that I have to scale and climb. We’ll get through that first and then we’ll worry about what’s next but it’s a no-brainer.”
Momentum. UFC Vegas 81 results: Edson Barboza survives early scare to win gritty battle with Sodiq Yusuff
Redemption. Alexander Volkanovski on short-notice rematch vs. Islam Makhachev: ‘I want to go out there and hurt him’
UFC Vegas 81 Post-Fight Show.
UFC 294 Countdown.
Four fights that changed the game.
Best of Bellator USA.
Powerhouse Playback: Ruiz vs. Morandin.
Prelude to UFC 294.
The War Room: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2.
An Ngannou…music video?
Holloway in Japan.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Not for long.
Usada came on my room in same energy when I was cutting weight https://t.co/u4ZKKuadcu
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) October 13, 2023
Surgery today was very well successful . thanks @ufc for all support
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) October 13, 2023
JUST. LIKE. THAT!!! #KSW87
Darko Stosic silences the Czech fans. pic.twitter.com/9Y9dCxBpEJ
— KSW (@KSW_MMA) October 14, 2023
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) October 14, 2023
Insane ADCC trials match ended with a sub out of bounds on the carpet pic.twitter.com/9yONlH499V
— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) October 14, 2023
Good old Hendo.
— 藤井惠 Megumi Fujii (@MegaMeguCat) October 14, 2023
Time to call a challenge, we don’t care what they say, we are ready!
I’m going to get my position back, Top 3 strawweight, I’m coming! I want to make the right shots to deserve an opportunity for the belt! Let’s go, February or March, I’ll be ready for some pretty violent “NoGi”! pic.twitter.com/1qlkA8Rqd1
— Marina Rodriguez (@wmmarz) October 15, 2023
Add one more to the reel.
— Fedor’s nephew (@FdrNphw) October 14, 2023
You guys aren’t gonna believe the night I just had. I got into a fight…
— Sodiq Yusuff (@Super_Sodiq) October 15, 2023
Hey @stylebender I just want to let you know I support your decision to take a break from fighting. Taking those last three years off was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Always put YOU first brother. Protect your heart, protect your mimd & spirit. Proud of you Champ.
— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 15, 2023
Up, up, up.
Your attitude determines your altitude ❤️ ✨ pic.twitter.com/qBcAgL63Jq
— Stamp Fairtex (@stamp_fairtex) October 15, 2023
Stop this bullshit YouTuber boxing please .
— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) October 15, 2023
Think any of these influencer wanna be fighters would do a Muay Thai match with me? Stupid question I know but man it would be great to make that kind of money elbowing dorks that can’t fight
— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) October 15, 2023
Because of course.
Pride and Ego are one hell of a monster
— Brian Ortega (@BrianTcity) October 16, 2023
Chael has an interesting analysis of the upcoming Ian Garry vs. Vicente Luque fight pic.twitter.com/VxdU0ker6w
— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) October 16, 2023
The ” ” takes no prisoners! ⚔️@sumikoinaba will be looking for win No. 7️⃣ under the Bellator banner when she takes on @Denisekielholtz in Chicago! ⚡️#Bellator301 | Friday, Nov. 17th | @WintrustArena pic.twitter.com/Lun5B3l2KX
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) October 16, 2023
I really wish Usman vs. Chimaev was five rounds. Still can’t believe it’s even happening, so I’ll take what we can get. Hard not to lean toward Chimaev with all things considered but Usman definitely shouldn’t be written off in his career just yet.
Thanks for reading!
Last Week’s Results:
Friday: 80% of 564 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Should the Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones 2 result be re-overturned?”
Thursday: 84% of 444 total votes answered “Islam Makhchev” when asked, “Who will be under more pressure at UFC 294?”
Wednesday: 61% of 564 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Does Alexander Volkanovski have a better chance of beating Islam Makhachev on short notice?”
Tuesday: 72% of 323 total votes answered “Edson Barboza” when asked, “Who wins this week?” Barboza defeated Sodiq Yusuff via unanimous decision in the UFC Vegas 81 main event.
Today’s exit poll:
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