The fight card for UFC 294 received a second blow, then arguably a second upgrade, after Kamaru Usman signed to step in to replace Paulo Costa, who has been medically pulled from the fight card for Abu Dhabi.

Costa was due to face Khamzat Chimaev in a middleweight co-main event bout at UFC 294, but earlier in the week caused alarm by posting photos of him in hospital before and after undergoing treatment for a staph infection on his elbow.

The nature of Costa’s ailment meant that the Brazilian was pulled from the fight card on medical grounds, and the UFC moved quickly to replace him with a marquee name. Former welterweight champion Usman has been one of the promotion’s top pound-for-pound athletes in recent years, and his long reign at the top of the 170-pound division had sparked a debate over whether he could be considered the UFC’s best-ever welterweight champion.

That reign then came to an end when he was knocked out by Leon Edwards at UFC 278 and, after Usman lost the rematch to the Englishman on the scorecards at UFC 286 in March, “The Nigerian Nightmare’s” next move was uncertain.

But now Usman is back, and he’s agreed to step in on 10 days’ notice to face undefeated Chimaev, at middleweight, in Abu Dhabi.

The fight card for UFC 294 has undergone two huge changes in the space of 24 hours, with both the main and co-main events losing one half their respective matchups, with Charles Oliveira and Costa both force off the card. But, for both matchups, the UFC has been able to draft in pound-for-pound superstars to replace them, with Alexander Volkanovski and Usman stepping in.

UFC 294: Amended fight card


  • Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski – for lightweight title
  • Kamaru Usman vs. Khamzat Chimaev
  • Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker
  • Nassourdine Imavov vs. Ikram Aliskerov
  • Said Nurmagomedov vs. Muin Gafurov


  • Tim Elliott vs. Muhammad Mokaev
  • Muhammad Yayha vs. Trevor Peek
  • Javid Basharat vs. Victor Henry
  • Abu Azaitar vs. Sedriques Dumas
  • Mike Breeden vs. Anshul Jubli
  • Nathaniel Wood vs. Muhammadjon Naimov
  • Viktoriia Dudakova vs. Jinh Yu Frey
  • Shara Magomedov vs. Bruno Silva