UFC 294 receives a major shake-up with another high-profile replacement taking place.
Former UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, has stepped in to fight Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event of the card on Oct. 21 in Abu Dhabi. The announcement was made by UFC president Dana White via social media. Previously, Chimaev was scheduled to face Paulo Costa, but due to his recent elbow surgery, he was unable to compete.
According to ESPN’s welterweight rankings, Usman holds the second spot, while Chimaev is placed fourth. Although the original plan was for this bout to take place at middleweight with Costa, the opponent change has shifted it to the same weight class.
In his social media post, Costa expressed his reluctance to withdraw from the match.
Usman (20-3) hasn’t competed since his title rematch loss against Leon Edwards at UFC 286 in March. The Nigerian-born fighter, based in Florida and Colorado, lost the belt to Edwards in August 2022. Prior to these defeats, Usman, at the age of 36, held an impressive 15-fight winning streak, the second longest in UFC history. ESPN currently ranks Usman as the sixth pound-for-pound best fighter globally.
Chimaev (12-0) boasts a perfect 6-0 record in the UFC, with five finishes. The Chechen-born fighter has showcased his skills in both middleweight and welterweight categories. At 29 years old, Chimaev is widely regarded as one of the most formidable up-and-coming fighters in the UFC, with the potential to become a future champion in either weight class.
The main event for UFC 294 will feature Islam Makhachev defending his UFC lightweight title against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. This matchup was arranged after Charles Oliveira, the former lightweight champion, sustained an injury during training and had to withdraw from the Makhachev fight.
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