This morning we learned that a big time UFC light heavyweight battle is heading to Abu Dhabi. Vestnik MMA was the first to report this morning that former title challenger Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1) is set to take on Brazil’s Johnny Walker (21-7) in October.
UFC 294 goes down on October 21st in Abu Dhabi. The matchup will be the first fight of 2023 for Ankalaev. Last year, Ankalaev headlined UFC 282 against Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title. The fight was lackluster and resulted in a draw with neither man walking away champion.
That draw halted a nine-fight winning streak for Ankalaev. Now, he will look to get back in the win column at this year’s premier event in Abu Dhabi. With Alex Pereira successfully debuting at 205 this past weekend, it’s a very exciting time in the light heavyweight division.
In February 2022, Johnny Walker was knocked out by Jamahal Hill. The loss dropped Walker to 1-4 in a five-fight stretch that had many wondering what would the future hold for this once promising top contender. When Walker debuted with the UFC, he won his first three fights by first round knockout.
After the 1-4 stretch, Walker really dedicated himself to improving his skills. Since then, he’s won three straight including a win over former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith. Those wins have inched him up the rankings and now he’s taking on another top contender and former UFC title challenger.
Whoever wins this fight is going to be right in the mix at 205. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a title eliminator. Alex Pereira is likely getting a shot against Jiri Prochazka towards the end of the year for the vacant title, but whoever wins this fight in October could face the winner of that fight.