Kamaru Usman will face Khamzat Chimaev in the co-main event of UFC 294, after replacing Paulo Costa on 10 days’ notice.
Usman, the former welterweight champion, will make his middleweight debut in this bout, which brings together one of the most dominant prospects in mixed martial arts. Chimaev, a Swedish-born Russian, boasts an impressive professional record of 12-0, with 11 stoppage wins.
The match-up was confirmed on Wednesday (11 October) when Costa announced that he would require two elbow surgeries, having previously undergone one two weeks ago. As a result, Costa is out of UFC 294, which is scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi on 21 October.
Costa’s withdrawal marks the second by a Brazilian fighter within two days. Charles Oliveira withdrew from the main event of UFC 294 on Tuesday due to a severe cut over his right eye. Oliveira was set to challenge Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title in a rematch of their previous fight in Abu Dhabi.
Instead, Alexander Volkanovski, the current featherweight title holder, will step in to replace Oliveira and face Makhachev in his own rematch. Makhachev narrowly outpointed Volkanovski in February to retain the lightweight belt.
Usman, aged 36, last fought in March, suffering a decision loss to Leon Edwards in a welterweight title challenge. Edwards took the title from Usman with a brutal head kick in August of 2022. Chimaev, aged 29, most recently fought in September 2022, submitting Kevin Holland in the first round.
Chimaev was originally scheduled to fight Nate Diaz on that occasion but missed weight, resulting in a last-minute change to the card. Diaz went on to fight and submit Tony Ferguson in the main event.
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