UFC 294: Five Things We Learned
UFC 294 was a fight card with many unpredictable outcomes. The event saw a historic main event, a highly interesting co-main event, knockouts, submissions, fouls, and more. The event leaves us with a handful of important lessons that must be discussed.
Islam Makhachev has Alexander Volkanovski’s number
The UFC 294 main event saw Islam Makhachev spoil Alexander Volkanovski’s quest for history as he landed a head kick that ended the fight in the opening round.
Makhachev now holds two wins over Volkanovski. Those two victories are vastly different as well. One was a hard-fought decision win while the other was a quick knockout. Despite competing in two very different fights, Makhachev got the nod both times.
It is evident that Makhachev has Volkanovski’s number. It is that simple. Makhachev is an awful matchup for Volkanovski because of his strength, size, and grappling. In credit to Makhachev, he perfectly leveraged those advantages to earn two career-defining wins.
Alexander Volkanovski will be relegated to featherweight
Alexander Volkanovski wanted to make history and become the fifth simultaneous double champion in UFC history; however, his aspirations stalled in the lightweight division. As a result, UFC 294 will likely be his final lightweight bout for the foreseeable.
It is a long shot that Volkanovski is given another chance at lightweight gold. As long as Makhachev remains the champion, Volkanovski will always struggle to provide a compelling case for a trilogy. Volkanovski’s only chance for another title fight will come if he cleans out the featherweight division while Makhachev loses or relinquishes the belt.
Volkanovski’s fate is not the worst. The reigning featherweight champion currently has five title defenses in his natural weight class. Now, he has the opportunity to build upon that mark and climb the all-time great rankings.
Khamzat Chimaev takes out a legend
Khamzat Chimaev had an outstanding opportunity at UFC 294. The elite prospect was fighting welterweight legend Kamaru Usman with a title shot on the line. It was not as dominant as other Chimaev performances, but he got his hand raised nonetheless.
Chimaev started hot at UFC 294 as he dominated throughout the first round. Chimaev took Usman down, controlled him, advanced his position and attacked submission. That level of dominance over Chimaev has not been seen against Usman.
In Rounds 2 and 3, the bout was far closer. The majority of the exchanges took place on the feet and were fought at a much slower pace. Ultimately, Chimaev landed a takedown in Round 3 that shifted the momentum in his favor.
Chimaev’s performance was impressive. At the end of the day, winning a decision over Usman should be celebrated, even if it was not as dominant as many people were expecting.
It is worth noting that Chimaev’s cardio presented concerns. That is especially true since he will be fighting in five-round fights very soon.
Kamaru Usman’s future is in question
Kamaru Usman did not get the result he was hoping for at UFC 294. As a result, he has now lost three consecutive fights.
It is time to ask questions about Usman’s future. I would like to make it clear that I am not saying Usman needs to retire. At the same time, questions should be asked.
The most important question Usman needs to answer is, why are you fighting? At this point in his career, is he fighting for money, legacy, competitiveness, or titles? At 36, he does not need to fight if he does not need or want to.
Secondly, Usman needs to determine his weight class. It is too late for him to ping-pong back and forth between welterweight and middleweight. It is important that he sticks to one weight class or the other. In all honesty, that weight class should be decided based on his answer to the first question.
The only opinion that I have regarding the final stages of Usman’s career is that he should be fighting in five-round fights. Usman’s cardio is too much of a weapon for him to be taking three-round fights. Aside from that, Usman has questions that he needs to answer.
Said Nurmagomedov has elite front chokes
At UFC 294, Said Nurmagomedov got the most optimal result possible as he locked up a guillotine choke in 1:13 second to secure a submission victory over Muin Gafurov.
The analysis of this fight is not overly complicated. If you give Nurmagomedov your neck, you are going to sleep–it is pretty straightforward.
Nurmagomedov deserves credit for having some of the best front chokes in the sport. In seven UFC wins, he has three impressive guillotine finishes. Nurmagomedov is great at using the ninja choke grip to quickly finish chokes.
Nurmagomev is on the shortlist for the best front chokes in the sport. In the future, his opponents need to keep that in mind for every second of the fight.
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