UFC 294 Preview: Magomed Ankalaev – Johnny Walker

Jul 30, 2022; Dallas, TX, USA; Magomed Ankalaev (red gloves) before a fight with Anthony Smith (not pictured) in a light heavyweight bout during UFC 277 at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow on the main card of UFC 294, we have a big time matchup in the light heavyweight division with potential title implications. Two contenders in the top seven will battle it out as second ranked Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1) gets back in there against surging seventh ranked Johnny Walker (21-7).

Walker has had a fascinating run so far inside the octagon. After earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Walker won his first three fights by first round knockout. However, he severely injured his shoulder during his celebration after his third win and that really threw him off. From there, he would go just 1-4 in his next five while getting finished twice.

However, he’s really turned things around over the last 13 months. Starting with a big time submission win over Ion Cutelaba. Then, he knocked out Paul Craig in the first round. Following that, he won a decision over former title challenger Anthony Smith. Now, he’s taking on the second ranked Ankalaev at UFC 294.

Magomed Ankalaev lost his octagon debut by getting submitted in literally the final second of a fight that he dominated. After that submission loss, he would go on to win nine straight fights leading him to a vacant title shot against Jan Blachowicz last December. I thought he did enough to win the lackluster fight, but the fight was ruled a draw and we haven’t seen Ankalaev since. He’s hoping to get the big win tomorrow which should secure him a title shot.

UFC 294 Prediction

If this fight was to take place sometime last year, I wouldn’t have to even think about this pick. I would throw money on Ankalaev and walk away without even thinking about it. However, Johnny Walker has really been impressing me lately and I think he has a real shot at UFC 294.

Walker needs to have controlled aggression tomorrow. He can’t come in too wild because of the nice striking of Ankalaev. However, he also can’t be too passive and get into a point fight because I don’t think he would win there. He needs to fight with power and pressure, but it all needs to be controlled.

For Ankalaev, he needs the fight to stay at distance and not get too wild. In a technical bout, he’s going to walk away with a decision win. However, if he allows things to get too wild, we’ve seen him hurt with big power shots in the past. To that point, we’ve also seen Johnny Walker get knocked out.

So, who takes the win tomorrow and potentially earns a UFC light heavyweight title fight? I like Magomed Ankalaev in this one. Too many people are writing him off and are seemingly quick to forget about the run he just went on. I think he’ll frustrate Walker throughout the three rounds and he’ll ultimately walk away with a decision win.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by Decision

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