If Kamaru Usman is in shape, his takedown defense will be hard for Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294

Alexander Volkanovski envisions the fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Kamaru Usman as a stand-up match-up.

Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) is set to face Usman (20-3 MMA, 15-2 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC 294, taking place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card will be broadcast on pay-per-view at a special time of 2 p.m. ET, following prelims on ESPN+.

Despite former welterweight champion Usman stepping in on short notice and competing in a higher weight class, Volkanovski believes he will pose a significant challenge to undefeated Chimaev.

“I think, again, credit to Chimaev because it ain’t an easy fight,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “We know Usman’s got exceptional takedown defense. Colby Covington had a tough time trying to take him down. Usman even managed to take him down, so we can expect a striking battle.”

According to UFC’s stats, Usman boasts a 97 percent takedown defense, making it a challenging task for Chimaev to bring him to the ground. Volkanovski agrees, but only if Usman is in good shape.

“Obviously, Chimaev is going to be in better condition,” Volkanovski said. “I don’t know how long Usman has been training for, and Chimaev is a very high-paced fighter. So does that come into play? Can Usman handle the shots? I think he can. Can he handle the relentless pressure that Chimaev brings? Everything’s going to be at 100 percent. It’s a three-rounder. Chimaev goes for the kill, whether it’s wrestling or striking. Usman can’t afford to leave any openings in his striking game.

“I think the relentless pace that Chimaev sets will be difficult to deal with, especially for someone stepping in on short notice… Usman has always been in a situation where he’s prepared, so he’s always in good condition. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. But if Usman’s fitness doesn’t hold up and it goes into the later rounds, with the pressure that Chimaev brings, it’s going to be a tough night for Usman. But if Usman is in top shape, his takedown defense will be a challenge, and we’re in for an exciting fight.”

For more information about the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 294.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie


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