Makhachev’s Stunning Head Kick Victory Highlights Controversial UFC 294 Event
If you only watched the main event of UFC 294, the takeaway would likely be that Islam Makhachev’s stunning first-round knockout win over Alexander Volkanovski was a legacy-building win that would be what is most remembered about the card. But the event, held at the Etihad Arena Saturday in Abu Dhabi, was littered with controversies.
Two fights were ruled no contests after bizarre behavior by the ringside doctor. Two fighters admitted in the post-fight interview to hiding a staph infection. There were also several illegal knees, groin strikes, and fence grabs that swung results of bouts.
When it comes time to review this event, many MMA news sites will have difficulty adequately covering everything that happened.
Makhachev Silences the Doubters
For the second time in 2023, UFC featherweight Volkanovski attempted to become a double champion. Volkanovski was so bothered by his decision loss, which many commentators suggested he won, to Makhachev in his home country of Australia last February that he sought a rematch. When Charles Oliveira pulled out of UFC 294, Volkanovski accepted the rematch on 12-day notice.
Despite lacking a full training camp, Volkanovski believed he could win by finish. But that’s not how the fight ended up going for Volkanovski. Makhachev pushed the pace and used his wrestling to keep Volkanovski guessing. With Volkanovski pressed against the cage, Makhachev wobbled Volkanovski with a head kick.
Makhachev followed up with ground and pound to force a stop to the fight 3 minutes and 6 seconds into the first round. Before the fight, Makhachev said he didn’t want to leave any questions to who won. Mission accomplished.
Dr. Doom Halts Several Fights
The ringside doctor had a rough night at UFC 294. Two incidents will leave people scratching their heads about his decision-making. During the light heavyweight fight between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker, Ankalaev landed an illegal knee. When the referee stopped the fight to evaluate Walker, the doctor also questioned him.
The doctor asked Walker what country he was in. When Walker said he didn’t know, the doctor told the referee to stop the fight. Walker thought the fight was cleared to start and returned to his stance. When the referee clarified what was happening, Walker shoved him and attempted to fight Ankalaev again, forcing security and UFC CEO Dana White to enter the octagon. Ultimately, once the smoke cleared, the fight was declared a no-contest.
During the preliminary fights, there was another fight declared a no-contest. Bantamweight Javid Basharat landed a kick on Victory Henry in the second round. The video was unclear on whether it hit his groin or not, but Henry stayed down for all five minutes in the octagon.
The doctor told Henry when he came in that that kick hadn’t hit Henry in the groin. Henry would later be carried out of the octagon and threw up before being taken to the hospital.
Chimaev Earns Title Shot
The middleweight fight between Khamzat Chimaev and former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was billed as a title eliminator. Chimaev made sure to take advantage of his opportunity. In the first round, Chimaev was dominant with his wrestling and nearly finished the fight with a submission.
But Usman was no stiff. Over the next two rounds, Usman utilized his superior striking to keep the pressure on Chimaev. While Chimaev won the fight via a majority decision, one judge scored it a draw, and anyone following MMA breaking news knows it was a tough fight.
Aliskerov’s Power Shines Through
Ikram Aliskerov has a power that not many in the UFC can handle. During his middleweight bout with Warlley Alves, Aliskerov showed how the variety of his striking can throw off opponents. Aliskerov stunned Alves with a switch knee before finishing him off with punches to earn a TKO victory.
Aliskerov has won all three UFC fights, including one on Dana White Contender’s Series, in 2:10 or less.
Said Finds Early Openings for Chokes
Said Nurmagomedov has only won six of his 18 career victories by submission. He is efficient when wrapping up a choke. At UFC 294, Nurmagomedov submitted Muin Gafurov with a guillotine choke just 1:13 into their fight. Nurmagomedov also submitted Cody Stamann in 47 seconds by guillotine at UFC 270.
Elliott Won’t Want to See Scorecards
Muhammad Mokaev is still undefeated after his third-round submission win over veteran Tim Elliott. But Mokaev will likely be surprised at how close he was to losing. When the UFC released the scorecards on X, formerly known as Twitter, two of the three judges had Elliott ahead 20-18 on their scorecards going into the final round.
Mokaev would finally get ahead in the grappling exchanges late in the fight.
Winning Fighters Hid Infections from Doctors
Mike Breeden had an interesting weekend in Abu Dhabi. He missed weight by 3.5 pounds before scoring a third-round knockout win over Anshul Jubli and hid a staph infection from doctors. Breeden also appeared to have a cut over his eye leading into the fight.
Viktoriia Dudakova’s admission was even more shocking. She won her fight with a 29-28 unanimous decision over Jinh Yu Frey. Dudakova also missed weight by .6 pounds, but she also admitted to passing out in a hot tub while trying to cut weight. Dudakova also said she couldn’t wrestle in the lead-up because of the staph infection and that her butt was bleeding after Saturday’s fight.
Duadkova and Breeden didn’t want to disclose their injuries so they didn’t get pulled off the card. Here’s a look at the other results from the card.
- Lightweight: Trevor Peek win by decision over Mohammad Yahya, 30-27 x2, 29-28
- Middleweight: Sedriques Dumas win by decision over Abu Azaitar, 29-28 x3
- Featherweight: Muhammad Naimov win by decision over Nathaniel Wood, 29-28 x3
- Middleweight: Shara Magomedov win by decision over Bruno Silva, 30-27 x
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