The UFC returns to “Fight Island” as Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island plays host to one of the biggest UFC pay-per-views of 2023, with two late changes at the top of the card turning an exciting lineup into a can’t miss night of fights at the Etihad Arena.
UFC 294 will be headlined by a rematch for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship of the world, as reigning 155-pound champion Islam Makhachev puts his title on the line against short-notice replacement, current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. The Aussie agreed to step in on just 12 days’ notice to face Makhachev after former champion Charles Oliveira was forced off the card due to a cut sustained in sparring. Now we get a fascinating rematch, as Volkanovski takes the chance of a rematch on short notice.
The co-main event will feature a huge matchup at middleweight, as former UFC welterweight king Kamaru Usman steps up on just over one week’s notice to face former welterweight contender-turned-middleweight title threat Khamzat Chimaev. Usman agreed to step into the breach against the undefeated Chimaev after Brazilian former title challenger Paulo Costa was ruled out of the bout after a nasty staph infection left him hospitalized and requiring surgery. Now Chimaev faces Usman in a bout that has been reported as a championship eliminator for the 185-pound title currently held by Sean Strickland.
The card also features a huge bout at light heavyweight, as rival contenders Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker face off looking to book a shot for the undisputed 205-pound title.
Ahead of the event, the UFC’s “Embedded” cameras are following the fighters behind the scenes as they work their way through fight week, as they arrive in Abu Dhabi and go through their pre-fight media obligations before the weigh-ins and the final faceoffs ahead of fight night.
As described on the UFC’s official YouTube channel, in Episode 1, “Khamzat Chimaev and foe Kamaru Usman are all systems go – as usual. Champ Alexander Volkanovski reacts to a surprise second chance. Johnny Walker looks to make a statement; Usman packs like a pro. Champ Islam Makhachev trains with legend Khabib.”
Check out the full episode below.