Saturday’s UFC 294 event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in Abu Dhabi, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Etihad Arena.
1 – Islam Makhachev
Well, who saw that coming? Expected to be rounds six through ten between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski, instead, the UFC 294 main event ended with an emphatic first-round knockout win by the lightweight king, who now has a pair of victories over the 145-pound champ from down under. It was a statement-maker for sure from the Dagestan native, who has now won 13 in a row since the lone loss of his career against Adriano Martins in 2015. And the scary thing about Makhachev is that he’s adding new wrinkles to his game every time out, making the prospect of a long reign at the top a distinct possibility.
2 – Khamzat Chimaev
It may not have been the type of win Khamzat Chimaev expected, but his majority decision over Kamaru Usman was one that may help him out in the long run, as perhaps those turning down fights with “Borz” will now be willing to face him thanks to the close nature of the bout. If that’s the case, it will allow some big fights to be made in the near future. The biggest, of course, will be a middleweight title fight against Sean Strickland, and though Chimaev enter that bout as the favorite, Strickland may have the style and confidence to make it a pick ‘em fight once the Octagon door shuts.
3 – Ikram Aliskerov
Like unbeaten welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov, Ikram Aliskerov is one of those fighters who won’t make a lot of noise leading up to the fight, but will speak volumes once it’s time to get down to business. Yes, he was expected to beat late-notice replacement Warlley Alves, who was moving up a weight class, but it’s the way he took care of business that was impressive. It’s going to be fun watching him progress, and by this time next year, he may be on the verge of entering the title conversation at 185 pounds.
4 – Muhammad Mokaev
Muhammad Mokaev might not hit his goal of breaking Jon Jones’ record as the youngest champion in UFC history, but the 23-year-old is increasingly showing the type of talent that may get him to the belt sooner rather than later. Beating perennial flyweight contender Tim Elliott is a big notch in his belt, especially considering that the last four folks to beat him are Deiveson Figueiredo, Askar Askarov, Brandon Royval and Matheus Nicolau – all killers at 125 pounds. With the victory, Mokaev is now 5-0 in the Octagon and only getting better.
5 – Said Nurmagomedov
Sometimes a fighter sneaks up on you, and after a big win on a big card, you look back at his record and wonder how you slept on him in the first place. Said Nurmagomedov is one of those fighters, and perhaps after his 73-second finish of Muin Gafurov, he won’t be sneaking up on anybody anymore. A member of the UFC roster for over five years, Nurmagomedov is 7-2 with five finishes in the Octagon, and with wins over Ricardo Ramos, Cody Stamann and Douglas Silva de Andrade, it’s clear that he belongs with the bantamweight elite.
UFC 294: Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2 took place live from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE on October 21, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!