UFC 294 was a night of surprises and upsets, as the lightweight champion Islam Makhachev defended his belt with a spectacular knockout of the featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in the main event. The card also featured a majority decision win for Khamzat Chimaev over Kamaru Usman, a no contest between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker, and several other exciting bouts.
Makhachev silences doubters with head kick finish
Islam Makhachev had a lot of pressure on his shoulders heading into his rematch with Alexander Volkanovski, who gave him a tough fight in their first encounter in February. Many fans and pundits questioned Makhachev’s legitimacy as the lightweight champion, as he had only defended his title once against Charles Oliveira, who had to pull out of UFC 294 due to injury. Makhachev silenced his critics with a stunning performance, as he landed a perfectly timed head kick that dropped Volkanovski in the first round. He followed up with some ground and pound, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 3:06 of the opening frame. Makhachev improved his record to 23-1 and extended his winning streak to 10 fights. He also became the first fighter to knock out Volkanovski, who suffered his second career loss and fell to 23-2.
Chimaev edges out Usman in close battle
Khamzat Chimaev and Kamaru Usman put on a show for the fans in the co-main event, as they engaged in a back-and-forth war for three rounds. Chimaev, who had dominated most of his opponents with ease, faced his toughest test yet against Usman, who stepped up on short notice after Paulo Costa withdrew due to injury. Usman, the former welterweight champion, showed his heart and grit, as he survived Chimaev’s early onslaught and came back strong in the later rounds. He landed some hard shots and takedowns on Chimaev, who looked tired and hurt at times. However, Chimaev also had his moments, as he rocked Usman with some punches and knees and controlled him on the ground. The judges had a difficult task of scoring the fight, and two of them gave it to Chimaev with scores of 29-27, while one scored it a draw at 28-28. Chimaev improved his record to 12-0 and became the first fighter to defeat Usman, who dropped to 19-2.
Ankalaev and Walker end in no contest
Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker were expected to deliver a knockout in their light heavyweight bout, but instead they delivered a disappointment. The fight was stopped in the first round after Walker accidentally poked Ankalaev in the eye with his finger. Ankalaev was unable to continue, and the referee declared a no contest at 3:13 of the round. Both fighters were frustrated by the outcome, as they had hoped to make a statement in the division.
Other notable results
• Ikram Aliskerov defeated Warlley Alves by TKO in the first round of their middleweight bout. Aliskerov landed a vicious elbow that cut Alves’ forehead and followed up with some punches that forced the referee to intervene at 2:07 of the round. Aliskerov improved his record to 11-0, while Alves dropped to 15-5.
• Said Nurmagomedov submitted Muin Gafurov with a guillotine choke in the first round of their bantamweight bout. Nurmagomedov caught Gafurov’s neck as he shot for a takedown and squeezed until Gafurov tapped out at 1:13 of the round. Nurmagomedov improved his record to 16-2, while Gafurov fell to 18-4.
• Muhammad Mokaev submitted Tim Elliott with an arm-triangle choke in the third round of their flyweight bout. Mokaev dominated Elliott on the ground for most of the fight and locked in the choke from mount at 3:03 of the final round. Mokaev improved his record to 7-0, while Elliott dropped to 17-13-1.
• Trevor Peek defeats Mohammad Yahya by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
• Javid Basharat and Victor Henry declared a no contest (accidental low blow) at 0:15 of Round 2
• Sedriques Dumas defeats Abu Azaitar by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Mike Breeden defeats Anshul Jubli by KO (strikes) at 3:00 of Round 3
• Muhammad Naimov defeats Nathaniel Wood by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Viktoriia Dudakova defeats Jinh Yu Frey by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)