The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294 later this month and that will see the return to action of fan favorite Khamzat Chimaev as he steps up to middleweight to fight Paulo Costa.
The two have gone back and forth over social media for several years and after seeing the fight collapse on a number of occasions, they will finally go toe-to-toe in the octagon in a highly anticipated bout which could decide the next 185-pound championship contender.
We'll take a look at the c0-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
- Middleweight (185-pounds) non-title bout
- 3 x 5 minute rounds
Paulo Costa vs Khamzat Chimaev
This hotly anticipated bout is guaranteed to produce fireworks between two all-action fighters with very different styles of offense likely to be on show.
Costa is a phenomenal boxer with incredible power in his hands, with a professional record of 14-2 including 11 wins by knockout. His time in the UFC started with four consecutive wins via knockout, defeating all of Garreth McLellan, Oluwale Bamgbose, Johny Hendricks and Uriah Hall before a decision win over Yoel Romero.
That set him up for a title shot against Israel Adesanya back at UFC 253 in which he suffered the first defeat of his career via second-round knockout, before losing a second straight fight against Marvin Vettori via decision.
His most recent outing came against former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in which he earned a convincing unanimous decision win in a bloody war.
The Brazilian will be coming up against the phenom that is Chimaev in this fight, who has a professional undefeated record of 12-0 with six knockouts and five submissions in his career.
The Swedish-Chechnyan fighter made his UFC debut with a dominant second-round submission win over John Phillips, before taking on Rhys McKee just ten days later with a first-round knockout - absorbing just one strike in the process.
He followed that up with a 17-second knockout win over Gerald Meerschaert next, before smashing Li Jingliang with a first-round submission win in his next fight to really get the world talking.
A welterweight fight of the year contender with Gilbert Burns was next, and he claimed a stunning unanimous decision win in a crazy war before he fought Kevin Holland on 24-hours notice after missing weight ahead of a proposed main event with Nate Diaz. He controlled Holland and earned a first-round submission to ensure his start didn't drop despite the controversy. This is due to be his first bout since September 2022.
Route to victory
Costa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with incredible punching power, which for most fights would make him a favorite to be able to dictate where this fight goes. But against Chimaev he will not have that luxury and that is a huge problem.
Chimaev is one of the most dominant wrestlers that we have seen in the UFC up to this point, having been able to take all of his opponents to the ground when he has tried to, and usually within the opening seconds of a bout.
If Costa wants to have any chance of being victorious in this fight then he has to be able to defend takedowns and get into lengthy striking exchanges to use his power and hopefully knock Chimaev out.
But Chimaev has shown himself to be an excellent striker too with some fantastic kickboxing skills, and he had the power previously to knock Burns down in their fight despite being completely sucked down in weight after cutting to 170 pounds.
As for "Borz", he is most likely to try and take this fight down to the mat where he knows he will be much safer against his opponent and have a huge advantage when it comes to grappling. For once though, he won't have a natural size advantage and that's something he may take time to get used to.
Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.
UFC Picks - Chimaev to make a statement
We can all expect fireworks from both men in this fight in the build-up, but once they're in the octagon it could be quite one-sided depending on how Chimaev plans to approach it.
If he fancies a real tear up then he will strike and they will go against each other in the center of the cage and just swing. But more likely is that Chimaev will look for an early takedown as he has done on so many occasions in the past, and look to control him on the ground.
From there he will look to move to Costa's back quickly and while he will be able to defend for a while as a black belt, Chimaev's relentless pressure and incredible cardio should see him eventually take his neck and find a choke to get the finish and a big win.
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