The next UFC event is UFC 294! The Etihad Arena on the Yas Bay Waterfront in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is set for an exceptional card headlined by Islam Makhachev as he defends the lightweight title against his replacement opponent, Alexander Volkanovski. Elsewhere on the card, there are appearances from Kamaru Usman, Magomed Ankalaev, and the emerging Viktoriia Dudakova.

Makhachev and Volkanovski In UFC 284 Fight of the Night Re-Match

Who remembers UFC 284? The main event was Islam Makhachev against Alexander Volkanovski in a Fight of the Night contest, which determined the UFC Lightweight Championship. Makhachev won by unanimous decision in a close contest between the top two fighters ranked in the pound-for-pound standings.

Makhachev was all set to fight Charles Oliveira, the man he defeated to win the championship back in October 2022. However, the Brazilian pulled out of the fight less than two weeks before the fight, leaving the door open for Volkanovski for a re-match of the UFC 284 fight. Between then and now, Volkanowski defended his championship at featherweight with a TKO win against Yair Rodriguez. History could be in the making if he wins this match and becomes one of the very few multi-weight division champions in MMA history.

Middleweight Division Showdown as Usman Fights Chimaev

The UFC middleweight division might not have a more ground-shaking bout than this fight. Kamaru Usman has changed weight classification after suffering two losses for the welterweight belt against Leon Edwards. This will be his middleweight debut. Undefeated Khamzat Chimaev has been ascending the rankings in UFC with his overall 12-0 fight resume.

The Nigerian Nightmare, Usman, wasn’t originally in this fight in another one of this card’s re-arranged bouts. He stepped in for another injured Brazilian as Paulo Costa pulled out of the fight with a mere ten days before the night.

Will the crowd treat Khamzat Chimaev as a hometown hero? He was technically born in the area today known as Chechnya in Russia but moved to Sweden as an 18-year-old. While he previously represented Sweden, he’s apparently ‘no longer Swedish.’ He’s officially emigrated to the UAE and will represent them going forward.

Ankalaev is Out for the Next Title Shot

UFC title shots and main event spots can be extremely few and far between. Dana White probably wasn’t best pleased when his UFC 282 main event bout for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight championship didn’t yield a winner as a split draw decision couldn’t separate Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev. Oh, and the championship is again vacant…

Ankalaev hasn’t fought since that card back in December 2022 and now has to earn his next shot at it. The Russian has been near perfect since joining the UFC in 2018, after dominating the competition in the WCFA. Despite losing his first UFC fight to Paul Craig, he’s since gone unbeaten, extending his record to 18-1-1, which includes that last stalemate. As the number two-ranked light heavyweight going into the fight, another win would surely convince White to book Ankalaev for another shot at the gold.

Johnny Walker also has the same aspirations – having had success in his native Brazil, Belgium, and the UK. Now in the UFC, he’s had some knockbacks but is coming into this fight on a three-match winning streak. Another win could elevate him above Ankalaev in the pecking order.

Hot Flyweight Contest Rounds out Prelim Card

The preliminary fights are rounded out by an exciting fight in the flyweight division between Tim Elliot and Muhammad Mokaev, the number 10 and 11 ranked fighters, respectively. The winner of this fight will advance greatly in the divisional stature and potentially angle themselves for a title shot shortly.

Tim Elliot is one of the most experienced fighters on the UFC roster, with a 19-12-1 record. He is in amazing condition for a 36-year-old, considering that all of his last five fights have gone the distance, and he’s won four of them in the process. While he’s not had a title shot in the UFC since 2016, he could change his fortune with a win.

Despite being born in Buynaksk in Russia, his family moved to Manchester at an early age, and he went on to represent the UK in multiple wrestling competitions before he took up MMA in 2020. After impressing on the Celtic Gladiator and Brave CF cards, the UFC sat up and took notice of this young fighter. Now 10-0 (1), he’s climbing the rankings with great vigor, especially given he’s won his last two fights by submission. Can he prove his worth by knocking off a divisional legend in the American Elliot?

Undefeated Dudakova Opens Show

Viktoriia Dudakova might be one of the most exciting prospects in the women’s strawweight division. The Russian is 7-0 in her career, having made her UFC debut back in July with a 34-second victory against Istela Nunes as the Brazilian had her elbow dislocated in the match. Dudakova is starting the road to challenge the likes of Zhang Weili for the strawweight championship. Next up, however, is the veteran, Jinh Yu Frey. The Korean-American has an 11-9 record, but will be a real acid test to see if Dudakova is a prime candidate to ascend the UFC rankings.

Jinh Yu Frey is at the other end of her career. With three straight defeats going into this fight, if she goes 11-10, then this could easily be the catalyst for her to hang up the gloves and call time on her MMA career. At the advanced age of 38, not many would blame her for choosing a new profession.