Lightweight champion Islam Makhachev will defends his title on Saturday in the main of UFC 294 in a rematch against featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski. Their anticipated showdown tops the main UFC 294 fight card starting at 2 p.m. ET from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. Makhachev was originally scheduled to defend his title at UFC 294 in a rematch against former champion Charles Oliveira, but Oliveira received a severe cut during training camp and had to withdraw. Volkanovski agreed to step in on short notice, providing a sequel to their February meeting at UFC 284 that saw Makhachev win a close but unanimous decision.
Makhachev is a -260 favorite (risk $260 to win $100), while Volkanovski comes back at +210 in the latest UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 odds. The co-main event features a middleweight title eliminator between former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (+230) and surging prospect Khamzat Chimaev (-280). Before locking in picks for UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2, make sure you see the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine MMA expert Daniel Vithlani.
From breaking down film and following fighters and their camps closely, to tracking sharp action and betting market signals, Vithlani covers the breadth of the MMA betting landscape top to bottom. He also trains amateur boxers and speaks regularly with MMA fighters to understand the sport’s nuances.
In his SportsLine debut for UFC 283 in January, Vithlani swept the main card and has been a consistent winner ever since. At UFC 292, he called the upset for underdog Sean O’Malley (+210) against Aljamain Sterling (-250) in the bantamweight championship main event. Anyone who has followed Vithlani already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 in sight, Vithlani has scoured the UFC card from top to bottom and released his top selections. You can only see those picks at SportsLine.
UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 preview
This rematch has been anticipated by MMA observers ever since Makhachev and Volkanovski engaged in an epic Fight of the Year candidate in their first meeting. Volkanovski, who remains the featherweight champion, was attempting to become a two-division belt winner and came up short but was more competitive than most anticipated.
Their matchup presents the ultimate clash of styles. Volkanovski (26-2) is considered one of the most complete fighters in today’s game but prefers a striking battle in which he uses his vast striking arsenal and cardo to pressure his opponents nonstop.
In the February meeting, Volkanovski got the better of the stand-up game but was outclassed on the ground by Makhachev (24-1), a Dagestan native who is a grappling and wrestling specialist. Although he won rounds with his ground-game skills and threatened submissions on a couple of occasions, some observers believed Volkanovksi’s edge on the feet should have been enough to earn him the nod.
Makhachev has been notably trained and coached by countryman Khabib Nurmagomedov, though the current champion is nowhere near as popular as his now-retired mentor. This is because Makhachev is widely viewed as nowhere near as exciting nor sinister as Nurmagomedov in the cage and lacks the former undefeated champion’s charisma away from it.
Conversely, Volkanovski has emerged as one of the promotion’s more popular champions because of a dominant reign that includes five successful defenses of the featherweight crown and the Australian’s everyman persona that includes producing cooking videos on YouTube in his spare time. You can see who Vithlani is backing at SportsLine.
UFC 294 predictions
We’ll share one of Vithlani’s UFC 294 predictions here: He is siding with Trevor Peek (-140) to get past Mohammad Yahya (+120) in a bantamweight matchup on the preliminary card.
Peek (8-1) is a power puncher who already has gained attention for his action-packed brawls. All eight of his wins have come by knockout but the 28-year-old is looking to bounce back from his first professional defeat. He dropped a decision to Jose Mariscal in June.
Yahya (12-1) is a versatile prospect who will be making his UFC debut following a 7-1 run through the UAE Warriors promotion. He has seven knockouts and two submissions on his record.
“Yahya is a skilled kickboxer and probably the more technical striker. But I don’t know if he can get Peek’s respect with his striking alone. I think Yahya folds to Peek’s pressure eventually and gets knocked out,” Vithlani told SportsLine. You can see more UFC 294 picks at SportsLine.
How to make UFC 294 picks
Vithlani has strong picks for Makhachev vs. Volkanovski and other bouts on the UFC 294 card. He’s also backing a fighter who “imposes his will from the opening bell” to emerge with a dominant victory. Those UFC picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.
UFC 294 odds, fight card
See full UFC 294 picks, predictions, best bets here.
Alexander Volanovski (+210) vs. Islam Makhachev (-260)
Kamaru Usman (+220) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (-280)
Magomed Ankalaev (-360) vs. Johnny Walker (+285)
Ikram Aliskerov (-600) vs. Warlley Alves (+440)
Said Nurmagomedov (-220) vs. Muin Gafurov (+180)
Tim Elliot (+350) vs. Muhammad Mokaev (-485)
Mohammad Yahya (+120) vs. Trevor Peek (-140)
Javid Basharat (-550) vs. Victory Henry (+410)
Abu Azaitar (+170) vs. Sedriques Dumas (-205)
Anshul Jubli (-310) vs. Mike Breeden (+250)
Shara Magomedov (-240) vs. Bruno Silva (+185)
Nathaniel Wood (-340) vs. Muhammad Naimov (+270)