Islam Makhachev put an exclamation mark on UFC 294
That’s after the UFC Lightweight Champion put an exclamation point on the short notice rivalry he found himself in with the UFC Featherweight Champion. Makhachev outpointed Volkanovski in their February meeting at UFC 284. It was a controversial outcome, one that Makhachev ensured wouldn’t be repeated after knocking Volk out with a head kick at Saturday’s UFC 294.
UFC 294 was set up as a showcase not just for Makhachev but for many of the top and up-and-coming Russian fighters on the UFC roster. This was done in large part to please the Abu Dhabi crowd, as most of the Russians who were on display are also Muslim.
In addition, this was likely done due to many of those same fighters experiencing difficulties traveling to the US or anywhere else right now (remember that whole “war with Ukraine” thing?) but hey, I’m not trying to make this a political piece.
Russia came to play at UFC 294
World events aside, UFC 294 represented a strong display of the Russian might we knew has been coming since Khabib Nurmagomedov first started ragdolling everyone in sight.
The show actually gave us a little bit of everything, from knockouts to submissions to nut shots (and doctors who don’t know what nut shots are).
Seriously, Johnny Walker is lucky the doctor made the call to end his fight with Magomed Ankalaev after he got blasted with a knee to the chin while his knee was on the ground. Otherwise, there’d be calls to have Aljamain Sterling stripped of his Academy Award.
Oh, and there was also Staph. Lots of Staph, but don’t tell anyone, okay?
The true Russian might was felt when Khamzat Chimaev took down former Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman with relative ease and earned a majority decision. He now stands at the front of the middleweight contender line and is the last man any fighter on the active roster wants to stand opposite.
Good luck, Sean. We’re all counting on you.
Of course, this wasn’t the originally scheduled fight. Two weeks ago, it was supposed to be Paulo Costa, but he got Staph and admitted to it BEFORE the fight (what an amatuer…), which resulted in him getting pulled from the match-up, allowing Usman to step up in a scenario we only expected to see in UFC 5.
Paulo still got some action, though, so everything seems to have worked out.
Islam Makhachev is firmly carrying Khabib’s torch
Things definitely worked out for Makhachev. He was originally supposed to face Charles Oliveira in a rematch of their UFC 280 title clash. It was a fight he won in dominant fashion, so there wasn’t much to gain by besting the Brazilian a second time.
Instead, Charles pulled out of the fight and in stepped Volkanovski, getting a rematch he desperately wanted on 11 day’s notice. It was another rematch but, after winning the first fight in less than convincing fashion, it allowed him the chance to prove, once and for all, who the better fighter was.
And prove it, he did. The fight started close, with both men battling for position in the clinch but, before things could get more technical than that, Islam went for the kill and drew first blood. After five grueling rounds in their prior outing, it only took the champion half a round to put things away this time.
It was a satisfying conclusion that allows Makhachev to move on to other business, such as a potential clash with Justin Gaethje (or more posturing over the welterweight champion, since no one wants to defend their own belt anymore).
It was, overall, a satisfying night for a nation of fighter that can be classified as tough and dominant and determined to be the best. It’s certainly good for them because their fellow countrymen might not be doing a whole lot of winning in the immediate future.
That’s okay, though. At least the UFC is morally bankrupt enough to have zero qualms about showing off how good Russians are at this whole MMA thing. Next stop: Riyadh season.
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