Two critical fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship are hours away for our MMASucka staff picks.
UFC 294 will take place later today, October 21st from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. This comes as the promotion’s return to the city after a successful UFC 280 event in October of last year and the 18th event from the country since April of 2010. For viewers in the United States, preliminary bouts start at 10:00am ET (7:00am PT) on ESPN+ followed by the five-fight pay-per-view at 2:00pm ET (11:00am PT) available for purchase to ESPN+ subscribers. See here for how to watch in your location.
Live results from UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski will be available here at MMASucka.
In the main event, Islam Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski will battle once more for the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Current divisional champion Makhachev claimed his first defense of the 155-pound title over Volkanovski in February by decision as the Sambo specialist returns to the cage looking for a 13th consecutive win and his 25th professionally in mixed martial arts. Five-time defending UFC Featherweight Champion Volkanovski returned to the octagon in July with his third-round knockout of Yair Rodriguez as he returns to the division and fighter that ended his 22-fight win streak. Today’s fight for Volkanovski also comes on less than eight days’ notice after replacing Makhachev’s original opponent, former Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira who suffered an injury while training.
Kamaru Usman and Khamzat Chimaev are to fight in a title elimination bout for the middleweight division in the co-main event. This pairing also followed saw a drastic change Usman stepped in on short notice due to Paulo Costa undergoing elbow surgery. Former UFC Welterweight Champion Usman makes his highly-anticipated debut at 185 pounds after losing the title and coming up short in two consecutive fights with current divisional title holder Leon Edwards. Freestyle wrestler and undefeated MMA talent Chimaev makes his first appearance of 2023 in preparation for his biggest test to date having won all twelve of his cage matchups including six with the UFC.
An additional fight that could play as a title eliminator sees Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker set to meet at light heavyweight. Russia’s Ankalaev returns for the first time since fighting to a five-round draw with Jan Blachowicz for the vacant Light Heavyweight Championship in December of last year. Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil contract winner Walker makes his twelfth step into the octagon with three wins in 15 months including two this year alone over Paul Craig by knockout and Anthony Smith by decision.
Multi-time Sambo world champion Ikram Aliskerov on a six-fight win streak looks to make his second UFC fight count against The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves who hopes for his first win since January of 2023 in his return to 185 pounds. Alves comes in also as a fighter on less than two weeks’ notice replacing Nassourdine Imavov who was forced out of the fight due to visa issues.
Opening the pay-per-view portion sees former AFC Champion Said Nurmagomedov and former LFA Champion Muin Gafurov fight in the bantamweight division.
Who have the MMASucka staff picked to win at UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2? Find out further below.
— UFC (@ufc) October 20, 2023
2023 Staff Picks
MMASucka staff picks are composed of five promotions: the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Bellator MMA, ONE Championship, the Professional Fighters League (PFL), and Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS). UFC and Bellator events feature picks from only main cards. PFL will feature select fights from the main and/or preliminary card while DWCS sees all fights counted from the event. ONE Championship returns to picks for the first time since 2020 and will feature only mixed martial arts (MMA) fights selected from cards with a minimum three matchups.
The WINNER of staff picks at the end of 2023, who picked the most victorious fighters, will have a choice between receiving a custom-made championship belt from ProAmBelts or a chain from Championship Chains. Staff picks in 2022 was won by Wesley Riddle with a record of 264-135.
See below for our UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 picks and predictions.
Staff Records after Dana White’s Contender Series – Season 7, Week 10:
1. Ben Jamieson: 263-134
2. Michael DeSantis: 255-138
3. Jeremy Brand: 252-145
4. Nate Freeman: 251-157
5. Wesley Riddle: 250-147
6. Frazer Krohn: 234-157
7. Julio Monteros Jr.: 213-123
8. Andrew Benjamin: 187-160
9. Jack Goodwillie: 148-83
10. Brian Knight: 140-84
11. Tim Wheaton: 105-60
12. Roemello Reyes: 62-34
13. Jonathan Andrade: 31-24
14. Brandon Joint: 12-9
15. Andrew Harbaugh: 10-7
16. Joshua Yule: 7-6
17. Chris De Santiago: 6-6
18. Antwyn Jackson: 5-6
*Note – not all staff pick for every event*
Said Nurmagomedov (17-3), -278
Muin Gafurov (18-5), +225
– 135 LBS. ~ 61.2 KG. –
Jeremy Brand: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Frazer Krohn: Nurmagomedov via Round 2 SUB
Nate Freeman: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Julio Monteros Jr.: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Ben Jamieson: Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Nurmagomedov: 8
Staff picking Gafurov: 0
Ikram Aliskerov (14-1), -625
Warlley Alves (15-6), +455
– 185 LBS. ~ 83.9 KG. –
Jeremy Brand: Aliskerov via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Aliskerov via Round 1 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Aliskerov via Round 2 TKO
Andrew Benjamin: Alves via Round 2 SUB
Frazer Krohn: Aliskerov via Round 1 TKO
Nate Freeman: Aliskerov via Round 1 SUB
Julio Monteros Jr.: Aliskerov via Round 2 SUB
Ben Jamieson: Aliskerov via Round 2 TKO
Staff picking Aliskerov: 7
Staff picking Alves: 1
Magomed Ankalaev (18-1-1), -375
Johnny Walker (21-7), +295
Light Heavyweight Division
– 205 LBS. ~ 93.0 KG. –
Jeremy Brand: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Ankalaev via Round 2 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Walker via Round 2 TKO
Frazer Krohn: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Julio Monteros Jr.: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Ben Jamieson: Ankalaev via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Ankalaev: 7
Staff picking Walker: 1
Kamaru Usman (20-3), +280
Khamzat Chimaev (12-0), -355
– Co-Main Event –
– 185 LBS. ~ 83.9 KG. –
Jeremy Brand: Chimaev via Round 2 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Usman via Split Decision
Michael DeSantis: Chimaev via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Usman via Split Decision
Frazer Krohn: Chimaev via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Chimaev via Split Decision
Julio Monteros Jr.: Chimaev via Unanimous Decision
Ben Jamieson: Chimaev via Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Usman: 2
Staff picking Chimaev: 6
Islam Makhachev (24-1), -250
Alexander Volkanovski (26-2), +205
Lightweight Divisional Championship
– Main Event –
– 155 LBS. ~ 70.3 KG. –
Jeremy Brand: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Makhachev via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Volkanovski via Split Decision
Frazer Krohn: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Makhachev via Split Decision
Julio Monteros Jr.: Makhachev via Unanimous Decision
Ben Jamieson: Makhachev via Round 2 SUB
Staff picking Makhachev: 4
Staff picking Volkanovski: 4