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5 Bold UFC predictions for UFC 294, including a statement win for rising star Khamzat Chimaev

Get a round of bold UFC predictions for the promotion’s UFC 294 card in Abu Dhabi this Saturday.

After a pair of cards at the Apex the MMA world leader is back on the road and in an international locale for their latest pay-per-view event, UFC 294. The show is headlined by a massive matchup at lightweight as champion Islam Makhachev defends his belt against featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.

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Volkanovski is stepping in on 11 days’ notice after original challenger Charles Oliveira suffered a bad cut in training. This is actually an immediate rematch for the Aussie as he lost in a close decision to Makhachev in February.

The event will also feature the long-awaited return of talented young star Khamzat Chimaev. He is also getting a short-notice replacement as welterweight legend Kamaru Usman moves up to middleweight to battle “Borz.”

The card inside the Etihad Arena will also include the return of UFC stars Johnny Walker, Magomed Ankalaev, and Said Nurmagomedov. With all of that in mind, let’s make some bold UFC predictions for this weekend’s huge event.

UFC predictions: 5 UFC 294 fighters getting Ws on Saturday

Islam Makhachev (24-1) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (26-2)

ufc predictions, ufc 294
Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

The first fight between Makhachev and Volkanovski was very close and some believe the Aussie won and should be a two-division champion. What was most impressive is both showed how well-rounded they are in that fight. The Russian is a much better striker than he gets credit for and Volkanovski really has elite take-down defense.

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It is always tougher for the winning fighter in a rematch, however, Makhachev comes from a strong camp and still has one of the most dominant wrestling games in the sport. Look for him to make a few key tweaks that help him land some important takedowns as he grinds out rounds and the win on Saturday.

  • UFC 294 odds: Makhachev (-250), Volkanovski (+205)
  • Prediction: Makhachev by unanimous decision

Kamaru Usman (20-3) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (12-0)

ufc predictions, ufc 294
Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

This is a fight probably worth the risk for Usman. He is moving up in weight, and on short notice against a very talented fighter so there is little for him to lose. But he has everything necessary to win the fight because he might be able to stop Chimaev’s vaunted takedowns and make this a stand-up war which could be big trouble for “Borz.”

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Yet, oddsmakers have Chimaev as a sizable -355 favorite, and his size, strength, and maybe even speed, will play a huge role in this bout. Usman will push Chimaev, especially in that opening round. But there is a reason that many around the sport feel he is the next superstar in the industry, and he will prove that as he grounds and glues the former 170-pound champ to the mat for the majority of a clear victory on Saturday night.

  • Odds: Usman (+280), Chimaev (-355)
  • UFC Prediction: Chimaev by unanimous decision

Tim Elliott (19-12-1) vs. Muhammad Mokaev (10-0)

ufc predictions, ufc 294
Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Elliott has always been a tough out and if Muhammad Mokaev is the real deal, proving it against the American is a great piece of booking. The undefeated Russian, by way of England, has been very impressive in his first four bouts in the UFC — three wins by submission. That will likely be the result again on Saturday.

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Elliott is extremely hard to knock out but has been submitted five times in his career. This seems like a challenging but very winnable matchup for Mokaev. A fighter that has had half of his 10 wins come by making foes tap. Furthermore, the oddsmakers placing him as a -425 favorite against a ranked fighter a few days before the bout says a lot about his potential as the next flyweight star.

  • Odds: Tim Elliott (+310) vs. Muhamma Mokaev (-395)
  • UFC Prediction: Mokaev by submission, Round 3

Magomed Ankalaev (17-1-1) vs. Johnny Walker (21-7)

ufc predictions, ufc 294
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Walker has a big opportunity at home against Magomed Ankalaev. A victory would be a fourth straight and against his best opponent yet. It could push him right into title contention early next year. However, the Russian is a very tough matchup despite Walker’s athletic gifts.

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His power and wrestling will be a serious threat for Walker, and chances are he deploys it in a way that sets up a finish in the second round.

  • Odds: Ankalaev (-345), Walker (+275)
  • UFC Prediction: Ankalaev by TKO, Round 2

Ikram Aliskerv (14-1) vs. Warlley Alves (14-6)

ufc predictions, ufc 294
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Ikram Aliskerv is one of the new must-watch fighters in the UFC. He’s lost once during his 14-fight career and that came in a very close bout against the one and only Khamzat Chimaev four years ago. Since then he has scored five finishes in his six straight wins, including a KO debut in the promotion earlier this year.

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He faces a crafty veteran in Warlley Alves on Sunday, nevertheless, this is another matchup set up for Aliskerv to score another dominant victory over a proven UFC veteran. The oddsmakers seem to expect a similar result with the newcomer set as a massive -600 favorite a few days before they enter the Octagon.

  • Odds: Aliskerv (-600), Alves (+445)
  • UFC Prediction: Aliskerv by TKO, Round 1

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