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UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 odds, Abu Dhabi predictions: MMA expert makes surprising fight card picks

Alexander Volkanovski will make his second attempt at becoming a two-division champion on Saturday when he takes on Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title in the main event of UFC 294. Their five-round rematch tops the main UFC 294 fight card from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The fighters met in February and Volkanovski, who is the reigning featherweight titleholder, pushed Makhachev to the brink. He came up on the short end of a close decision as a massive underdog. Now, both fighters are determined to show their first matchup was a fluke, with Volkanovski determined to claim his second belt and Makhachev vowing to give a dominant performance.

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. Before finalizing any UFC 294 picks, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Kyle Marley.

Marley won the first-ever “ToutMaster” UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.

Over the past four years, $100 bettors who have followed Marley’s picks are up nearly $12,000. In 2022, the accomplished MMA analyst launched the UFC season by advising SportsLine members to back Calvin Kattar (+200) against Giga Chikadze (-240) in the featherweight main event. Kattar’s lopsided decision victory gave Marley’s followers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed him has seen massive returns. 

Now, with UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2 in sight, Marley has studied the card from top to bottom and revealed his top picks and best bets. You can only see Marley’s MMA picks at SportsLine.

UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski preview 

The first meeting between Makhachev and Volkanovski was an outlier in the sense that the fight seemed to stir more controversy and dialogue in its aftermath than it did at the time it occurred. Makhachev (24-1) used a big edge in grappling and ground control to win a unanimous decision, an outcome that appeared just and most MMA observers accepted.

However, in the ensuing days following their UFC 284 clash, an onslaught of sentiment questioning the scoring criteria surfaced, with many questioning whether Volkanovski (26-2) was short changed for his advantage on the feet while Makhachev, while effective with control, failed to end the fight with a submission and did little striking damage while in control.

Although Volkanovski returned to featherweight and successfully defended his title for a fifth time against Yair Rodriguez in July, the popular Australian slugger made it clear that he coveted a rematch with Makhachev.

When the UFC 294 main event with Oliveira fell through, Makhachev and Volkanovski both agreed to the sequel on less than two weeks’ notice. The Russian champion, who has 11 submissions on his record, has vowed to not leave the rematch in the hands of the judges. Volkanovski has similarly promised to end the fight inside the distance. See all of Marley’s UFC 294 picks here

Top UFC 294 predictions

One of Marley’s top UFC 294 picks: He is going with Magomed Ankalaev (-360) vs. Johnny Walker (+285) in a battle of light heavyweight contenders on the main card.

Ankalaev (18-1-1) has long been heralded as a potential future champion who brings a 10-fight unbeaten streak into Saturday’s matchup. The 31-year-old Russian is noted as an imposing figure who has a well-rounded arsenal but is sometimes hesitant to engage. His last outing resulted in a memorable draw against Jan Blachowicz for the vacant title last December.

Walker (21-7) is noted as an explosive striker and a showman who has worked his way back into contention following a two-fight losing streak. The 31-year-old Brazilian has won three straight, including a win over former title challenger Anthony Smith in May.

“Walker has massive power, but this looks like a KO-or-bust matchup for him. Ankalaev is the more skilled fighter everywhere and he can win this fight by any method,” Marley told SportsLine. See who else to pick here.

How to make UFC 294 picks

Marley has strong picks for Makhachev vs. Volkanovski and every other bout on the UFC 294 card. He’s also backing a fighter who “will take advantage of an opponent who appears in decline” to emerge with a dominant victory. See Marley’s picks at SportsLine

Who wins UFC 294: Makhachev vs. Volkanovski, and how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 294, all from the MMA expert who’s up nearly $12,000 on MMA in the past three-plus years, and find out.

UFC 294 fight card, odds

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)

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