With just a day left until the best UFC event of the year, we have to prepare for what's coming. What better way to celebrate this massive card than a few well-analyzed bets? Here are our UFC 294 predictions.
UFC 294 Predictions: Here are our Main Card Picks
Makhachev vs Volkanovski Prediction
Islam Makhachev won the championship belt in October 2022 in a duel with Brazilian Charles Oliveira (submission). In February 2023, he defended the title in a fight with Volkanovski (unanimous decision). The Russian fighter suffered only one defeat at the professional level, which happened at the beginning of his performances in the UFC back in 2015.
After an unsuccessful fight with Brazilian Adriano Martins (technical knockout), the native of Makhachkala won 12 victories in a row. Makhachev is a two-time Russian champion and winner of the world championship in combat sambo. 31-year-old Islam has 24 victories (five by knockout, nine by decision, ten by submission) and one defeat in MMA.
Alexander Volkanovski is the featherweight champion. The Great won the belt in July 2022 in a duel with American Max Holloway (unanimous). Since then, he has not suffered a single defeat in his division. In his last fight in July 2023, the Australian defeated Yair Rodriguez (technical knockout).
The 35-year-old Volkanovski has 26 wins (13 by knockout, 10 by decision, three by submission) and two defeats. Alex is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also practiced kickboxing and Muay Thai.
Bookmakers consider Makhachev to be the clear favorite in the upcoming fight and we agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. Of course, Volkanovski is a legend and you can never underestimate him; no one doubts his professionalism. But Makhachev ten centimeters taller than his opponent, had a full camp and is fighting on home turf. Not to mention that Volk went through a tough surgery three months ago.
• Makhachev to Win
Kamaru Usman vs Khamzat Chimaev Prediction
Kamaru Usman is ranked number one in the division. He is a former UFC welterweight champion. In his youth, Usman practiced freestyle wrestling and was a member of the US national team.
Kamaru is a US citizen, but decided to compete under the flag of Nigeria – his place of birth. The 36-year-old African has 20 victories (nine by knockout, ten by decision, one by submission) and three defeats in MMA. The Nigerian Nightmare lost twice to Leon Edwards in title fights in his last two bouts.
Chimaev is ranked fourth in the division rankings. Previously, Khamzat performed in Brave Combat Federation. He is also a three-time Swedish wrestling champion. Recently, the fighter decided to start performing under the UAE flag and moved to the Akhmat Fight Club. Borz has not yet suffered a single defeat in MMA. In his last fight, he defeated American Kevin Holland.
The 29-year-old Chechen has 12 victories (five by knockout, one by decision, six by submission). He holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Usman replaced Brazilian Paulo Costa, who underwent surgery a few weeks before the fight, for the fight with Chimaev. Bookmaker analysts consider Khamzat to be the clear favorite of the upcoming fight and we agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. Despite the experience, the short-notice appearance is unlikely to work in favor of Usman. Chimaev is a monster and motivated to prove himself and get a title shot ASAP.
• Chimaev to win via KO/TKO/Submission
Magomed Ankalaev vs Johnny Walker Prediction
Magomed Ankalaev is currently 2nd in the division ranking. The native of Makhachkala previously held the World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA) title. He also competed in the Oplot Challenge. His collection also includes a gold medal from the World Mixed Martial Arts Championship.
Ankalaev's last fight was on December 10, 2022, when his bout with Jan Blachowicz for the Vacant title ended in a draw. Before that, the Russian won nine victories in a row. 31-year-old Magomed has 17 wins (nine by knockout, eight by decision) and one defeat.
Johnny Walker is ranked seventh in the division rankings. Before signing a contract with the UFC in November 2018, the Brazilian competed in his homeland in Jungle Fight and other Latin American promotions. The 31-year-old fighter has 20 victories (15 by knockout, two by decision, three by submission) and seven defeats.
Walker has won three in a row. In his last fight, he defeated Anthony Smith (split decision) from the USA.
Bookmakers consider Ankalaev the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight and we agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. The only question is how the victory will be achieved. Walker is on a win streak right now but he is not even close to Ankalaev's level. It is clear that he has a hard time fighting against strong opponents and more than half of his defeats were knockouts.
• Ankalaev via KO/TKO/Submission
UFC 294 Prelims Predictions: Three Solid Bouts
Tim Elliott vs Muhammad Mokaev Prediction
Tim Elliott is ranked tenth in the division rankings. He is a former Titan FC Welterweight Champion. He has earned Fight of the Night three times, won Performance of the Night once, and won The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions. He has 23 wins (three by knockout, 12 by decision, eight by submission) and 12 losses.
The 36-year-old American won his last two fights. Elliott defeated Victor Altamirano (unanimous decision) in June 2023 and before that Tagir Ulanbekov (unanimous).
Muhammad Mokaev takes 11th place in the division ranking. A native of Dagestan Buinaksk, who fights under the English flag, has been competing in mixed martial arts at a professional level since 2020 but has not yet achieved serious results. Before signing a contract with the UFC, he competed for Brave CF and the Scottish Celtic Gladiator.
The 23-year-old fighter has ten wins (two by knockout, three by decision, five by submission) and zero defeats. In his last fight in March 2023, he defeated the Brazilian Jafele Cavalcante Filho (submission).
Bookmakers analysts consider Mokaev to be the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight. However, we are not so sure when it comes to our UFC 294 predictions. Mokaev is a talented fighter, but still too young. Elliott has extreme experience when you compare him to his opponent. In this situation, it is worth betting that the fight will not reach the scorecards. The fighters have 18 early victories combined.
• Fight Will Not Reach Distance
Viktoriia Dudakova vs Jihn Yu Frey
Viktoriia Dudakova is a European champion and bronze medalist in the World Mixed Martial Arts Championship. The native of Volgograd will hold her second fight in the UFC. In her debut in July 2023, she defeated Istela Nunes (KO) from Brazil.
The 24-year-old Russian woman has not suffered a single defeat in MMA at the professional level. She has seven wins (two by knockout, one by decision, four by submission).
Jihn Yu Frey is a former Invicta FC champion. In the title fight in February 2020, she defeated American Ashley Cummins (unanimous decision). After this success, the Korean-American signed a contract with the UFC.
The 38-year-old Frey has 11 wins (one by knockout, eight by decision, two by submission) and nine losses. She is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Bookmakers consider Dudakova the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight and we agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. It’s time for Frey to end her career in professional sports. Her age does not allow her to fight at full strength. Dudakova has to achieve victory. She has six early victories in seven fights.
• Dudakova via KO/TKO/Submission
Shara Magomedov vs Bruno Silva
Shara relies on high-speed kicks and constant changes in distance. His good cardio allows him to work in his fast style until the last round. The problem is that Magomedov has not yet faced knockout fighters of the caliber of Bruno Silva.
Magomedov has the opportunity to outshoot Silva on points due to the sharpness and unpredictability of his attacks. While swinging his leg, Shara can throw both a merciless flying knee and a low kick. Magomedov also has a small chance to land a knockout high kick, because Bruno tries to dodge kicks or block them, rather than move from the line of attack.
Silva is a high-pressure fighter who often tries to pin his opponent against the cage and bombard him with endless attacks. This makes his opponents wary but also makes the Brazilian predictable. Gerald Meerschaert, for example, managed to easily beat Bruno. If the Brazilian does not want to repeat the same scenario in the fight with Shara, then he will have to cut corners and target Magomedov a lot.
Bruno loves to trade but has never been knocked out thanks to his outstanding defensive skills. He overlaps tightly, quickly dodges, and ducks under his opponent's blows even at close range. Bruno knows how to transfer to the canvas and relies more on physical strength than technique. But we must not forget that he has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in case of a prolonged ground game.
Bookmakers consider Magomedov a clear favorite here but we do not agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. Yes, Magomedov can outplay the Brazilian due to his speed. Silva's defense is unlikely to allow him to be knocked out, but Shara has a chance to outshoot Bruno on points. To do this, it is important to stay standing and there is no doubt that Sharabutdin will be ready to defend against takedowns.
The Brazilian has power and more confident boxing on his side, so he has no less chance of winning on the judges' cards. We think that Bruno will have more opportunities for an early victory.
• Bruno Silva to Win
UFC 294 Full Card Predictions: The Best of the Rest
Having analyzed most of the bouts from this fight card, we have room for one more pick. It is a fight from the main card and one of the highly-anticipated bouts.
Ikram Aliskerov vs Warlley Alves
Ikram Aliskerov ranks 11th in the division rankings. His collection includes victories at the Russian and world championships in sambo and combat sambo, as well as at other major international tournaments. The 30-year-old Dagestani has 14 victories (five by knockout, four by submission) and one defeat at the professional level in MMA. His winning streak is already six fights. In the latter, he defeated American Phil Howes (knockout).
Warlley Alves is the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil tournament. In his youth, he won gold medals several times at the Brazilian kickboxing championship of his age. The 31-year-old Latin American fighter has 14 victories (four by knockout, four by decision, six by submission) and six defeats.
Aliskerov will fight only his second fight in the UFC. Alves has been competing here since 2014. However, bookmaker analysts consider the Russian to be the favorite and we agree with them for our UFC 294 predictions. Ikram has ten early victories in his career and we think that he will either get a KO or a submission here.
• Ikram Aliskerov via KO/TKO/Submission