What are the stakes for Kamaru Usman, Khamzat Chimaev and Paulo Costa after UFC 294 switcheroo?

The highly anticipated UFC 294 main event is not the only headline-grabbing bout that underwent a major shakeup. In a surprising turn of events, the co-main event also experienced significant changes.

As the event in Abu Dhabi prepared for featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s showdown against lightweight champ Islam Makhachev, another intriguing matchup had to be reconfigured. Originally, Khamzat Chimaev (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) was slated to face Paulo Costa, a bout with potential title implications in the middleweight division. However, Costa’s withdrawal due to a staph infection prompted former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (20-3 MMA, 15-2 UFC) to step up.

A lot is at stake for Usman, who previously lost the welterweight title to Leon Edwards in 2022 and suffered another loss to him in their rematch. A third consecutive defeat in his middleweight debut would be far from ideal. Meanwhile, Chimaev must navigate this new challenge against Usman. The question remains: has the fight become more difficult or easier for him? And what will the UFC do with Costa, whose absence on Saturday has delayed his timeline?

The co-main event in Abu Dhabi is rife with intriguing storylines. To delve into these narratives, we turn to this week’s “Spinning Back Clique” panel, consisting of UFC Hall of Famer and guest panelist Cub Swanson, Brian “Goze” Garcia, and Nolan King, who engage in a lively discussion with host “Gorgeous” George Garcia. Watch their conversation in the video above, and make sure not to miss the full episode below.

This story originally appeared on MMA Junkie


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