- What: UFC 294
- Who: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2
- Date: Saturday, October 21, 2023
- Location: Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi
- Time: Early Prelims (TBA) Prelims (10:00 a.m. ET) Main Card (2:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPNews), Main Card (ESPN+ PPV)
UFC 294 picked up a new main event less than two weeks from fight night when former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira was forced out of his rematch with current lightweight titleholder Islam Makhachev because of a cut suffered during sparring. UFC featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski steps in to face Makhachev in the main event of the ESPN+ PPV pay-per-view streaming card. Makhachev defeated Volkanovski in a hard-fought battle at UFC 284. Here is some information on Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC 294 PPV fight card.
Islam Makhachev (24-1), the hand-selected successor to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, fulfilled his destiny by submitting Oliveira at UFC 280 to claim the vacant title. Makhachev has one title defense since then, winning a unanimous decision over Volkanovski in February.
Alexander Volkanovski (26-2) has defended the UFC 145-pound title five times. His most recent win was a July knockout victory over Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 in defense of that crown. Volkanovski’s only UFC loss came to Makhachev at 155 pounds. He gets another opportunity to become a two-division UFC champ at UFC 294.
UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2 betting picks
|To Win UFC 294 Main Event|
UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2 betting breakdown
The betting odds for the rematch between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski are tighter than they were for the first fight. However, the lightweight champ is still a pretty hefty betting favorite over the featherweight champion. The closing odds for their first fight saw Makhachev as the -400 betting favorite over Volkanovski, who entered the bout as a +275 betting underdog. Had Volkanovski had a full camp for UFC 294, the betting odds would have been much tighter for this contest.
Because of the lack of a full fight camp, Volkanovski heads into UFC 294 at a deficit. If there is a positive for him taking the fight on short notice, he won’t have to cut an enormous amount of weight to hit the 155-pound limit.
The key for Volkanovski in this fight will be to keep the action standing. He had his most success on the feet in the first fight and struggled when the contest went to the mat at UFC 284. He will be more prepared for the wrestling game of his foe in this fight.
As for the lightweight champ, Makhachev’s willingness to exchange on the feet in the first bout was a risky game plan. Don’t expect him to be so willing to do so in the rematch. The smart move will be for Makhachev to rely on his takedowns and ability to keep Volkanovski on the mat at UFC 294.
UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2 – Who has the edge?
In their first matchup, Volkanovski was the much more active striker, attempting 143 significant strikes to his opponent’s 95. As for landing percentage, Makhachev landed 60 percent of his attempted significant strikes, while Volkanovski landed 48 percent. However, the featherweight champ landed more strikes, outstriking Makhachev 70 to 57. Volkanovski also landed the only knockdown of the fight, which came in Round 5.
As for grappling, Makhachev landed four of his nine takedown attempts and racked up 7:37 of control time throughout the contest. Makhachev had control time in each of the five rounds of the first meeting, including an impressive 3:25 of the fourth stanza.
Expect both men to do their best to fight to their strengths in this contest.
Best Bets: UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski 2
If Volkanovski had a full camp for this fight, I think the outcome would be up in the air. Coming in on short notice gives Makhachev the advantage. He has to change far less of his game plan to have more success than he did in the first meeting. I suspect we will see much more wrestling from the betting favorite at UFC 294. My betting picks for Makhachev vs. Volkanovski is that the fight will go the five-round distance, and Makhachev will walk away with a decision win. For those who find betting value in the betting underdog, a pick for Volkanovski to pick up a decision win or a knockout is not out of line.
Best UFC 294 Main Event Betting Pick: Islam Makhachev to beat Alexander Volkanovski via decision.
See below a list of reliable sportsbooks and choose the best one for you.