UFC 294 is no stranger to major shake-ups, and once again, a high-profile replacement has stepped in. In a surprise announcement on social media, UFC president Dana White revealed that former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will now face off against Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event on October 21st in Abu Dhabi. This matchup comes as a result of Paulo Costa’s unfortunate injury, forcing him to withdraw from the bout.
As the anticipation builds for this showdown, it’s important to note that Usman is currently ranked as the second-best welterweight in the world by ESPN, with Chimaev not far behind at fourth. However, this fight will take place in the middleweight division, originally scheduled when Costa was slated to be Usman’s opponent. Despite Costa expressing his reluctance to withdraw, circumstances dictated a shift in plans.
Usman, with a record of 20-3, hasn’t set foot in the Octagon since his title rematch loss to Leon Edwards at UFC 286 in March. The Nigerian-born fighter, who trains in both Florida and Colorado, lost the welterweight belt to Edwards in August 2022. Prior to these consecutive defeats, Usman boasted an impressive 15-fight winning streak, the second-longest in UFC’s history. To further solidify his standing in the mixed martial arts world, Usman is currently ranked sixth on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list.
A Frightening Prospect
Meanwhile, Chimaev has been making waves in the UFC with his undefeated 12-0 record, including six wins within the organization. The Chechen-born fighter has competed in both middleweight and welterweight divisions, showcasing his versatility and dominance. At just 29 years old, Chimaev is widely regarded as one of the most formidable up-and-coming fighters in the UFC. Many believe he has the potential to secure championships in either weight class.
While the Usman vs. Chimaev bout promises an exhilarating co-main event, let’s not forget the scheduled main event for UFC 294. Islam Makhachev, the current UFC lightweight champion, will be defending his title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. This highly anticipated clash materialized following Charles Oliveira’s unfortunate training injury, resulting in his withdrawal from the Makhachev fight.
As the date draws near, fight fans eagerly await the reshuffled lineup for UFC 294. With the spotlight on Usman and Chimaev in the co-main event, it’s a chance for both fighters to prove their mettle and vie for higher rankings. Meanwhile, Makhachev and Volkanovski’s matchup holds tremendous significance as they battle for supremacy in the lightweight division. Whether it’s unexpected replacements or unforeseen injuries, the world of mixed martial arts is ever-changing, and UFC 294 is no exception.