Another absolutely insane lightweight title fight takes place this month at UFC 294 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 21st when Islam Makhachev defends his championship against Alexander Volkanovski in a crazy turn of events.
The 155-pound championship will be on the line after Charles Oliveira dropped out of the fight due to injury, with Volkanovski answering the call on just 11 days notice for a highly-anticipated rematch from their bout earlier this year.
We'll take a look at the main event and provide you with our best free UFC picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while watching an incredible fight card.
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UFC 294 Information
- Saturday, October 21st, 2023
- Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Main card starts 2pm ET
- Lightweight (155-pounds) world championship bout
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski 2
This fight is going to be absolutely crazy and much like the first time they fought back in February, fans are split as to who the better of the two fighters are.
Makhachev is on a sensational 12-fight win streak, but the names on his list are a little less impressive. He submitted Drew Dober at UFC 259 and then Thiago Moises in his first main event, before a staple win over Dan Hooker at UFC 267 and Bobby Green.
He then defeated Oliveira to claim the title before securing a controversial decision win over Alexander Volkanovski in Australia last time out at UFC 284 in his first title defense. He has a professional record of 24-1, with 11 submission wins in his career to date.
Volkanovski comes into this fight on just 11 days' notice, and will be making his second attempt at becoming a simultaneous two-weight world champion.
"The Great" is so far undefeated in the UFC at featherweight, with a professional record of 26-2 and a run of 13-1 in the organisation. His professional wins have been split with 13 knockouts, three submissions and ten decisions.
The Aussie fighter claimed the UFC title by defeating Max Hollloway, and then beat him twice more to go 3-0 in their trilogy of title fights and cement himself as one of the best ever in that weight class. He has also been victorious in two more title fights along the way, dominating Brian Ortega and then knocking out Korean Zombie, while he also beat Yair Rodriguez via knockout in his most recent outing following his defeat to Makhachev.
Route to victory
Any fans of the sport know exactly how Makhachev is going to look to approach this fight, and that's because he approaches every fight the same way no matter the opponent.
Makhachev is a very good striker on the feet, but he always wants to close the distance and use his phenomenal grappling skills that set him apart from the rest of the division.
Once on the ground, he has got the unbelievable ability to control his opponents completely and pass through the stages to work for submissions or damage his opponents with ground and pound. But in the first fight between these two we saw that Volkanovski was more than comfortable in the ground exchanges and was also able to get back to his feet and stay safe a lot too.
On the feet Volk is a really technical striker, with excellent countering abilities and speed to go with his power and he will be packing an extra punch with the extra weight. Add to that his phenomenal takedown defence and unbelievable cardio, plus the fact he has got bags of experience at the highest level and this is an exceptional stylistic match up.
There's no doubting that the short-notice gives an advantage to Makhachev, but Volkanovski is always in tremendous shape and that shouldn't be an issue.
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UFC Picks - Makhachev to retain
The first time these two fighters met in the octagon, it was proven that while size matters it isn't everything and these two are insanely well matched up in terms of their skillset.
Both fighters will welcome the grappling exchanges, and Makhachev is an exceptional fighter in that realm meaning he will be right at home. It can't be forgotten that the first fight was in enemy territory for Makhachev and he still came out on top in a really close fight.
This time we will see Volkanovski enter enemy territory in Abu Dhabi, and the fact he is flying in so late means jet lag could well have an effect on his performance. Meanwhile Makhachev has been preparing for this date for months and will be primed to go on offense no matter who the opponent is.
It would be incredibly shocking if we saw a finish in this fight either way, because both guys are so exceptionally high-level and defensively brilliant and at +110 for the fight to go the distance is a fantastic valut bet. In terms of the winner, it's hard to see this not going the same was as the first fight.
Makhachev will know how Volkanovski feels in the grappling now and that will encourage him, and the fact he's had more time to prepare for this rematch will only suit him more. Another decision win for the Dagestani fighter seems like the most likely outcome.