Tomorrow in the main event of UFC 294 we are going to see a rematch for the lightweight title featuring two champions and two of the best P4P fighters in the world. Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev (24-1) will look to turn away the challenge of featherweight king Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (26-2).
Originally, Makhachev was supposed to face former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. However, Oliveira suffered a nasty cut just 11 days out of the fight and had to pull out. The featherweight champion was willing to jump in and the rematch was made.
These two fought in February at UFC 284 in Australia which is Volkanovski’s home turf. Most didn’t think Volkanovski would be able to handle the size advantage, but he did that and some. A lot of people thought he won the fight especially after he dropped Makhachev and dominated the fifth round. However, Makhachev won the decision and kept the belt. Now, they fight in front of a pro-Makhachev crowd in Abu Dhabi.
UFC 294 Prediction
The thing that took most by surprise in the first fight was how well Volkanovski did in the grappling exchanges. Yes, Makhachev was still able to get takedowns and secure some dominant positions which is why he won the decision, but Volkanovski scrambled and made things harder than imagined for the UFC lightweight champion.
I’m wondering how sharp that takedown defense will be with such little time to prepare. In addition, I’m wondering how well Volkanovski’s cardio will be considering the lack of camp. Yes, the featherweight champion is always training, but is he ready for five tough rounds against a guy like Islam Makhachev?
On the other hand, you could point to the fact that Volkanovski will be fresh and not beaten down after a long camp. He’s also a vastly different opponent for Makhachev than Charles Oliveira. Completely different styles and completely different fighters to prepare for from a physicality standpoint.
All that being said, I like Makhachev at UFC 294. Had there been a full camp, I would be pretty 50/50. However, with the lack of prep, I just think the takedowns and grappling of control of Makhachev is going to be too much. I don’t see Volk having the same energy in the championship rounds that he did in the first one. He’ll have success, but I think we see a clearer decision for the lightweight champ tomorrow.
Prediction: Islam Makhachev by Decision