UFC 294 ended quickly with a head kick from Islam Makhachev to Alexander Volkanovski. Prior to that fight, Kamaru Usman put in a good effort, but was unable to stop Khamjat Chimayev from earning the biggest win of his career. Makhachev and Chimaev showed their dominance on Saturday, as did several rising prospects. Here’s what Brett Okamoto and Mark Raimondi are taking away from a dramatic event in Abu Dhabi.
No more room for doubt: Islam Makhachev The best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
At UFC 294 on Saturday, Makhachev didn’t just lose Alexander Volkanovsky To defend his UFC lightweight title. He stopped Volkanovski, the featherweight champ, with authority — a left kick to the head that sent Volkanovski crashing to the canvas. Volkanovski isn’t over for 10 years, going back to the fourth fight of his career.
There is definitely a caveat here. Volkanovsky arrived on 11 days’ notice. Makhachev was already preparing for the fight in Abu Dhabi Charles Oliveira Until Oliveira was interrupted in training and forced to withdraw. Was this Volcanovsky’s best version? Of course not. But you also can’t disrespect Makhachev, who was trained to compete against a completely different style. Oliveira is a tall, lanky Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter who is dangerous with his Muay Thai. Volkanovski is a short, stocky all-rounder.
Moreover, Makhachev already defeated Volkanovsky at UFC 284 in February. With a full camp for both. There are no asterisks. If you have Makhachev and Volkanovski in your no. 1 and 2 pound-for-pound, like many, Makhachev is now 2-0 in that series. It is not difficult to say that the fighters of Dagestan are the best in the world at the moment.
The John Jones The conversation is a different one, seeing him specifically as the current heavyweight champion. Jones is truly undefeated in the Octagon and his prize is better than anyone in the history of the game. No doubt and no one is really even close. But right now, it’s hard to say what he’s doing is more impressive than Makhachev’s. If Jones goes out and steamrolls Stipe Miocic At UFC 295, we may see that conversation again.
But what about the man who helped Makhachev prepare for this fight? He can surpass the achievements of his dear friend and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov? Makhachev has 14 wins in the UFC, which is now one more than Nurmagomedov. Furthermore, Nurmagomedov had three lightweight title defenses; It was Makhachev’s second. And then, of course, Nurmagomedov never lost and never retired undefeated.
Makhachev snapped Nurmagomedov’s 13-fight UFC winning streak on Saturday. It is the third-longest streak in campaign history. only Anderson Silva (16) and Kamaru Usman (15) There are more. With a few more wins, Makhachev should start the conversation not only with Nurmagomedov, but among the greatest of all time.
But right now? Yes, he is the best in the world. — Raimondi
Who next? By Brett Okamoto
This is one of the tough ones. Justin Gaethje Deserves a shot, and he did no wrong. He fought to get her back into this position that needed to be fought. Accepted to fight against Raphael Fiziev, a guy no one really wants to fight. Then he fell Dustin Poirier in spectacular fashion. He deserves to fight for the belt soon. But the problem is, Oliveira did exactly what was asked of him. He found out Benil Dariush In July, and while it’s probably his ‘fault’ he didn’t make it to Abu Dhabi this month, I hate to see an opportunity lost to an injury.
Oliveira got the win against Gaethez. I believe you should probably give Oliveira a chance, but it’s really hard.
Wild Card: Justin Gaethje
This is a new opponent for Makhachev, which I imagine he will appreciate. It’s a good one for fans. The UFC can’t go wrong here. If they choose to go with Gethedge, that’s fair.
Volkanovski had this plan before the fight on 11 days notice. Nothing changes, except perhaps the date it happens. But even that probably won’t change.
Volkanovski wants to be as active as possible. When he’s ready to go in January, the UFC will likely set him up against Topuria for the first pay-per-view of the year.
Wild Card: None
There isn’t one, really. Topuria is the obvious and only challenge to go with the headliner here. They may even choose to wait, depending on how long any delay will be if something happens to Topuria. Volkanovski is so good, he doesn’t have a ton of challenges left. Topuria is next, in any and all situations.
Khamjat Chimayev won by decision over Kamaru Usman
Khamjat Chimayev won a good fight by majority decision against Kamaru Usman.
Let’s be real, Chimaev was ready to fight for a UFC championship three years ago. Does he occasionally have some growing pains? Yes. But we’re looking at one of the most dominant fighters in the world, and he’s capable of beating anyone.
He would be a significant betting favorite against Strickland – and any other middleweight. If he can cut down to welterweight again, he will be favored to beat Leon Edwards as well. He’s talked about becoming a champion in three weight classes, and right now, no one can say with confidence that he’s not capable of doing it. Middleweight will be what he goes for first.
Wild Card: Paulo Costa
If for some reason a title shot doesn’t happen, I imagine the UFC will rebook Chimaev’s main fight against Costa. But I hope it will be a title fight.
What to be next for Kamaru Usman: stand up
If Covington wins, which is certainly possible, Usman holds two wins against him and something of a morale victory over Chimayev. The way he competed against a monster like 10 days’ notice, one can’t say that Usman doesn’t have plenty left if he wants to continue.
What match is meaningful for him though? Not a ton if we’re being honest. So, wait. And hopefully Covington beats Edwards. Because if Covington retains the belt, Usman may not even need another win to get a title shot. And that’s a shock, considering he’s now lost three in a row.
Who’s next for Said Nurmagomedov?: Chris Gutierrez
Nurmagomedov has been a bit up and down in the UFC so far. When he’s good, his ceiling seems off the charts. While he was struggling, it was difficult to keep him in the bantamweight division rankings. On the surface, he possesses all the intangibles to look for in a future champion, but he has lost twice as betting favourite, and has had very competitive fights against good (but relatively unknown) Saidiokub Kakhramanov.
His most recent loss came against Martinez, who is Gutierrez’s teammate. I like this fight quite a bit stylistically and it will be an opportunity for Nurmagomedov to avenge his loss against Gutierrez’s Factory X gym in Colorado.
Wild Card: Kyler Phillips
There are plenty of good matchups for Nurmagomedov, as the bantamweight is stacked at the top and plenty of depth awaits beyond the top 15. Phillips is 5-1 in the UFC, and the promotion actually booked the fight earlier this year in August and Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw.
It made sense then and it makes sense now. Two of the top 135-pounders in the division who are not currently ranked in the top 15.
Did Muhammed Mokayev get his breakthrough moment?
Muhammed Mokayev submits to Tim Elliott to remain undefeated
Muhammed Mokayev taps Tim Elliott, grabbing the win to remain undefeated in the UFC.
The 23-year-old has shown an incredible amount of promise so far in the UFC. His wrestling is dominant and he has been able to survive very close submissions in his last few fights. Elliott’s third-round submission (arm-triangle choke) finish represented the biggest moment of his young career. The only thing for him is competitive fighting.
Mokaev called out the top contender Kai Cara-France During his post-fight interview, he then stated that he would take a title fight straight away. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are some very good fighters at the top of the flyweight division and all have done more than Mokaev at this stage.
But the Dagestani-born Briton has since acquired a legitimate 125-pound fighter, as someone Amir Albaji or a Matthew Nicolau. Finally, Mokaev will run into someone he can’t completely bully with his wrestling. It wasn’t Saturday, but it didn’t get any easier from here. We’ll see if he rises to the occasion.
Shara Magomedov impressed in her UFC debut
It was only his UFC debut, however Shara Magomedov Already looking like a unique matchup for most of the middleweights in the promotion. He has a bevy of unorthodox kicks from different angles and has done a lot of damage against Bruno Silva Silver from a standing position to the outside of the leg, especially with a left kick to his thigh. A popular leg kick attack in MMA these days is a roundhouse with the back leg towards the opponent’s lead calf.
Magomedov seems like a different guy in general. He is from Dagestan, but he represents Shanghai, China. His right eye has turned gray due to post-surgery complications. While she could use some better takedown defense, “Shara Bullet” is aggressive, fun to watch and clearly has great striking. He is someone to watch in the 185-pound division. — Raymondi