- What: UFC 294
- Who: Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 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)
A UFC lightweight title fight rematch headlines UFC 294, which takes place at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 21, 2023. That rematch takes place one day short of a year since Islam Makhachev defeated Charles Oliveira to become the UFC lightweight champion at UFC 280 in the same arena where UFC 294 happens. Here is some information on Makhachev vs. Oliveira 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 UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a hard-fought battle at UFC 284 in February.
Charles Oliveira (34-9-0-1) won the vacant lightweight title in May 2021 with a TKO victory over Michael Chandler. He defended the title once with a May 2022 submission of Justin Gaethje, but he missed weight in his next planned defense at UFC 274. The UFC stripped him of his title for that infraction. Oliveira fell short of regaining his title at UFC 280. The ex-champ is coming off a June TKO win over Beneil Dariush.
UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 betting picks
|To Win UFC Lightweight Title|
UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2 betting breakdown
Seeing Islam Makhachev as the betting favorite over Charles Oliveira heading into their first fight was a bit of a surprise. After all, Oliveira was a proven quantity with a long UFC history and a UFC title run. Islam Makhachev was mostly seen as a protege of Khabib Nurmagomedov and his father, Abdulmanap. Makhachev changed that thinking with his UFC 280 win, and he deserves to be a more significant betting favorite heading into UFC 294’s main event.
If Oliveira has a path to victory at UFC 294, it is keeping the fight on the feet and sapping the energy from Makhachev. The problem with that is that Makhachev is unafraid to strike and has the power to knock Oliveira down, something he did moments before he secured the submission win at UFC 280. Oliveira needs to use his reach advantage and stay to the outside. He must get off first with his strikes and quickly move out of range. He cannot allow Makhachev to tie him up against the cage, take him down, accumulate control time, and rack up ground strikes. A problem here is that Oliveira’s takedown defense is only 55 percent.
Makhachev’s striking is good but not great. Oliveira has the edge in speed and timing. If he is not first to get off, Oliveira needs to be out of range of his opponent’s attempts but not too far out that he can’t quickly counter. For Makhachev to win, he needs to do what he has been doing: landing enough strikes to get the judge’s attention and then controlling the fight on the mat while looking for submissions and doing damage with ground strikes.
Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2: What we learned from the first fight
The biggest takeaway from the first fight between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira was that Makhachev is a real talent. We had seen glimpses of his skills before UFC 280, but until he faced Oliveira, Makhachev had not met a top-level UFC talent. That changed with the Oliveira win. The hype surrounding Makhachev seemed justified following his submission win at UFC 280. Yes, some of that shine was tarnished in the Volkanovski fight, but let’s not forget that despite being a 145-pound fighter, Volkanovski was the No. 1 rated pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC when those two faced off in February.
We also saw that Makhachev is very capable on the mat. In the early going of their first scrap, the UFC commentators talked a lot about Oliveira’s ability to generate offense off his back. While he did his best in that position, Makhachev’s heavy top game and knowledge of grappling prevented Oliveira from generating a submission attempt.
As for Oliveira, I am sure his team took a lot away from the first fight and that they will have a better idea of what to do and what not to do in the rematch at UFC 294.
Best Bets: UFC 294 main event: Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2
Oliveira can win this fight. However, to do so, he must improve from the first meeting and be almost perfect in his execution. That’s a lot to ask because a tiny slip could spell disaster. If he makes the wrong read and gets popped by a powerful strike or ends up on the mat, the tide of the round and possibly the fight could change instantly.
Makhachev deserves to be the betting favorite in the UFC 294 rematch and is our betting pick to win. I see this fight playing out in a similar style to the Volkanovski scrap, with a lot of ground control time for Makhachev and a decision win going the champion’s way.
Best UFC 294 Main Event Betting Pick: Islam Makhachev to beat Charles Oliveira via decision.
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