UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev produced a huge statement in the main event of UFC 294 as he stopped featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in the first round of their title rematch in Abu Dhabi.
Volkanovski stepped up on just over a week’s notice to replace the injured Charles Oliveira as he looked to complete a remarkable short-notice title heist in the United Arab Emirates, but a scintillating display from Makhachev left no doubt as he demolished the Australian with a stunning head-kick finish.
The action started with both men looking to find their range in the early exchanges, before Makhachev forced the action against the fence and punished Volkanovski in the clinch.
When the action eventually returned to the center of the Octagon, Makhachev lined up his man and connected with a huge head kick that sent Volkanovski down against the cage. The lightweight champion then closed in and landed a series of savage follow-up shots to complete a stunning knockout victory as he notched the 25th win of his career in spectacular fashion.
Chimaev bests Usman in three-round war
Khamzat Chimaev underlined his credentials as an elite operator with a majority decision victory over former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in the co-main event.
Chimaev went all out for a first-round finish as he took Usman down early and relentlessly hunted for a submission. Usman needed all of his experience and Octagon smarts to stay in the fight as he survived the opening round.
After a fast-paced opening round, the action slowed in the second stanza, as Usman and Chimaev battled largely at kickboxing range in a tight, cagey round.
Then, in the final frame, Usman looked to push forward and put Chimaev under pressure in the stand-up, using a smart combination of takedown feints and well-timed strikes. Chimaev scored a crucial takedown, but Usman escaped, prompting a wild final 30 seconds as the pair swung for the fences in a crazy final flurry.
In the end, it was Chimaev who earned the victory, with scores of 29-27, 29-27, 28-28 giving him a majority decision victory and, potentially, a shot at the UFC middleweight title held by Sean Strickland.
Walker and Ankalaev waved off after illegal strike
The light heavyweight contest between former title challenger Magomed Ankalaev and Brazilian contender Johnny Walker promised fireworks. But the bout ended up being a damp squib after one illegal strike, and a seemingly controversial call from the cageside doctor.
The action was starting to warm up when Walker appeared to pretend he was hurt from a body shot, then launched into a flying knee as Ankalaev closed in. But the Russian won the exchange as he took the Brazilian to the ground and looked to lock up a rear-naked choke.
Walker defended well and appeared to be on his way back to his feet, but before he was able to get up from the canvas, Ankalaev connected with an illegal knee to Walker’s chin. Referee Dan Movahedi paused the contest for the accidental foul and brought in the doctor to check on Walker’s condition.
After Walker apparently failed to giving the doctor acceptable enough answers to his questions, the physician confirmed to a surprised Movahedi that Walker was unable to continue, and the fight was waved off.
An incensed Walker attempted to restart the fight, as he shoved Movahedi and needed multiple commissioners and security staff to hold him back, while more staff were called in to prevent Ankalaev from charging Walker.
In the end, it took the intervention of UFC CEO Dana White to finally restore some order to a crowded Octagon, as Bruce Buffer announced that the bout had been ruled a no contest.
It gave Ankalaev yet another frustrating result after his title fight draw with Jan Blachowicz last time out at UFC 282, while Walker’s momentum hit the buffers after three successive victories.
After such an unsatisfying, inconclusive outcome, don’t be surprised if the UFC looks to rebook the matchup for later this year, or early in 2024.
Aliskerov blasts past Alves
Russian middleweight Ikram Aliskerov showed the rest of the 185-pound division that he’s going to be a major problem to the division’s top names as he showcased his striking power in a blistering finish of Brazil’s Warlley Alves.
Aliskerov had already stunned Alves with a jab before he started loading up for the finish. And, when that moment came, the finish was spectacular. A barrage of punches forced Alves back against the cage, and a flying knee connected flush on the Brazilian’s chin.
Aliskerov then peppered Alves with salvo of follow-up strikes to claim a huge TKO finish as he improved his record to 15-1, then called for his next fight to come against a Top 10 opponent.
Nurmagomedov snatches quickfire guillotine
Unranked bantamweight Said Nurmgomedov wasted no time in improving his record to 18-3 as he locked up a swift guillotine choke to halt the charge of former LFA champion Muin Gafurov.
Gafurov pushed the pace early as he charged forward at his opponent in a bid to score an early takedown. But, as he changed levels in a bid to land a double-leg, Nurmagomedov snatched his neck and applied the squeeze to force the tap. Then, as he released the submission, Gafurov dropped to the canvas, unconscious.
It was a statement-making win that should propel Nurmagomedov into a bout against ranked opposition in the not-too-distant future.
Mokaev claims huge win
British flyweight contender Muhammad Mokaev picked up the biggest win of his UFC career to date with an attention-grabbing submission of former title challenger Tim Elliott.
Mokaev happily traded strikes in the stand-up, and scrambled back and forth on the mat, as he pushed himself against the well-versed pressure fighting of Elliott.
Mokaev dominated the control stats, but found himself caught in a couple of submission attempts as Elliott threatened to finish the undefeated former amateur world champion. But Mokaev showed calmness and composure in abundance as he worked his way free of each submission predicament, then closed the show with a submission of his own, as he locked up an arm-triangle choke to force Elliott to tap at the 3:03 mark of the third round.
UFC 294: Official results
- Islam Makhachev def. Alexander Volkanovski via knockout (head kick and punches) – Round 1, 3:06 – for lightweight title
- Khamzat Chimaev def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker ruled a no contest (illegal knee to a grounded opponent) – Round 1, 3:13
- Ikram Aliskerov vs. Warlley Alves via TKO (flying knee and punches) Round 1, 2:07
- Said Nurmagomedov def. Muin Gafurov via technical submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:13
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Tim Elliott via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 3:03
- Trevor Peek def. Mohammad Yayha via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Javid Basharat vs. Victor Henry ruled a no contest (accidental groin strike) – Round 2, 0:15
- Sedriques Dumas def. Abu Azaitar via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Mike Breeden def. Anshul Jubli via knockout (punches) – Round 3, 3:00
- Muhammad Naimov def. Nathaniel Wood via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Viktoriia Dudakova def. Jinh Yu Frey via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Shara Magomedov def. Bruno Silva via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)