MMA Junkie Analyst Dan Tom Breaks Down the UFC’s Top Bouts
Today, we take a closer look at the main event for UFC 294.
UFC 294 is set to take place on Saturday at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The highly anticipated main card will air on pay-per-view at a special time of 2 p.m. ET, following the prelims on ESPN+.
Islam Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski: Striking the Second Time Around
One of the standout fights on the main card for UFC 294 is the impromptu rematch between Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski. Makhachev was originally scheduled for a rematch against Charles Oliveira, but due to Oliveira’s injury, Volkanovski stepped in.
Volkanovski brings a different style and stature to the matchup compared to Oliveira. He also offers some interesting approaches when facing southpaws.
In their first encounter back at UFC 284, Volkanovski used a combination of body crosses and head hooks in the open stance. This combination has proven effective against taller opponents like Brian Ortega and Max Holloway. However, Makhachev’s counters and wrist control prevented Volkanovski from connecting with his lead hand.
Volkanovski found success early on by switching to a southpaw stance, creating opportunities for his left hand. In southpaw vs. southpaw matchups, left crosses and right hooks can be particularly powerful. Makhachev, however, was able to read Volkanovski’s attacks and responded with southpaw kicks and counters.
Volkanovski’s advances were also stifled by Makhachev’s clinch knees, something that Volkanovski and his team will need to address this time around.
Despite Volkanovski’s shorter stature, his fight against Yair Rodriguez showcased his ability to match Rodriguez when he switched to a southpaw stance. Volkanovski effectively shut down body kick lanes and landed lead hooks. This check right hook could prove just as effective against Makhachev.
If Volkanovski can dictate the clinch, he has shown that he can utilize leg play to his advantage.
Winning the Wrestling
In this fight, the ability to control the wrestling could be a deciding factor. Both Makhachev and Volkanovski have solid grappling skills, but with Makhachev’s active counters and strong awareness of wrist control, it will be interesting to see if Volkanovski can find success in this area.
Odds and Opinions
As for the odds, Makhachev is favored to win with -280, while Volkanovski sits at +210 via FanDuel.
It’s surprising that the betting lines are shorter this time around, considering Volkanovski is taking this fight on short notice. Although their first fight was more competitive than anticipated, Makhachev still clearly won the decision. The short-notice nature of this fight, combined with Volkanovski’s recent surgery and limited training time, makes it difficult to back him in this spot.
While part of me hopes for an incredible upset by Volkanovski, as an analyst, I have to be realistic about the situation. I predict Makhachev will weather the early scares, pull away in the later rounds, and potentially secure a stoppage.
This story was originally published on MMA Junkie.
Sarah Foster is your guide to the world of Mixed Martial Arts. With a deep understanding of MMA’s intricacies and a passion for the sport, she offers comprehensive coverage of MMA events, fighter profiles, and in-depth analysis of fights. Sarah’s commitment to the octagon ensures that readers stay engaged with the latest developments in the MMA world.