The UFC returns to the Middle East! This Saturday, October 21st, the UFC returns to the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Easily one of the best cards of the year, and being headlined by a FOTY-worthy rematch between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski, this card is NOT to be missed! Here though, we are breaking down and offering our prediction for the huge light-heavyweight fight featured on this card between Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker! Read on to find our prediction below!
Magomed Ankalaev: Utter Division Domination
Magomed Ankalaev has not lost in the UFC since 2018. That is an utterly ridiculous level of domination, by anyone's standards.
Since that fateful hail-Mary triangle choke in the last SECOND of that fight five years ago, Ankalaev has been arguably the most dominant force in the light-heavyweight division. currently riding a NINE fight winning streak, in a division that is notoriously tough to gain traction in. Despite coming in to this fight off the back of a split draw with Jan Blachowicz, expect Magomed Ankalaev to be extremely confident coming in to this fight.
Johnny Walker: Complete Career Resurgence
Two years ago, it appeared as if Johnny Walker's place at the top of the light-heavyweight division looked under very real threat. Not anymore.
Ever since his highlight reel-worthy knockout loss to Jamahal Hill last year, Walker has enjoyed a quite brilliant career comeback. Two first-round finishes over Ion Cutelaba and Paul “Bearjew” Craig, as well as a comfortable decision victory over Anthony “Lionheart” Smith have seen Johnny Walker rocket back up towards the rarified air of the top 5. Like his foe, Ankalaev, expect Johnny Walker to approach this fight with a lot of confidence and belief.
Magomed Ankalaev: Path to Victory – Ring Generalship, Explosive Stand-Up
Magomed Ankalaev has a lot of excellent skills that he will look to implement in this matchup against Johnny Walker.
When fighting someone as explosive and unpredictable as Walker, ring generalship such as Ankalaev possesses can be an excellent way to neutralise that factor. In many of his finishes to date, you can clearly see how good Magomed Ankalaev is at controlling and pressuring movement within the octagon, and pushing fighters back against the fence. Implementing this will be essential for him.
Secondly, Ankalaev is very well-rounded, and has explosive stand-up skill to boot. Some of his finishes are little short of spectacular, so Johnny Walker will have to be 100% concentrated for the entire duration of this fight. My prediction is that if he switches off for even a second, then Ankalaev will have the speed and skill to swiftly take advantage and punish him on the spot.
Johnny Walker: Path to Victory – Unorthodox and Unpredictable
Johnny Walker's path to victory against Magomed Ankalaev mostly relies on his speed and his unpredictable movement. These keys will be essential if he is to have any chance of victory against Magomed Ankalaev.
In his most recent fights, Walker has displayed a new energy with his movement, as well as new defensive awareness. He was once a terrible culprit for leaving his chin completely exposed, which Jamahal Hill (and others) have taken full advantage of. Notwithstanding that, Johnny Walker has shown just how good his natural ability is, with Cutelaba, Craig and Smith finding it very difficult to get to grips with Walker. That being said, Magomed Ankalaev looks to be a much tougher nut to crack.
My prediction for Johnny Walker is that if he can implement his footwork and speed from the opening bell, then he stands a much better chance in this high-stakes matchup. However, if he allows Ankalaev to start controlling the octagon, then my prediction skews pretty sharply towards Ankalaev; Walker cannot let that happen.
Official Prediction: Ankalaev Edges Tough Fight
My prediction, first and foremost, is that this is going to be a really close fight.
Normally, my prediction would be for someone like Magomed Ankalaev to find a fight like this fairly easy. However, Walker presents a pretty unique challenge; Ankalaev is going to have to be very switched on and aware in this fight. However, my prediction is that he will be. My prediction is that Walker's weakness with grappling might actually be his undoing in this fight. In my opinion, Ankalaev will edge this fight out due to his grappling prowess, and that will be the difference in this fight.
Official prediction: Magomed Ankalaev to win via unanimous decision.