What’s next for the stars of UFC 294?

By Cole Shelton - October 23, 2023

The UFC returned to Abu Dhabi on Saturday for a solid UFC 294 card that somehow got better after both the main and co-main events were changed on less than two weeks’ notice.

In the main event of UFC 294, Islam Makhachev was looking to defend his lightweight title for the second time as he was rematching featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski. The co-main event saw Khamzat Chimaev and Kamaru Usman fight at middleweight.

Ultimately, it was Makhachev who remained the lightweight champ with a first-round knockout win over Volkanovski. Chimaev, meanwhile, scored a majority decision win over Usman to remain undefeated. Now, here is what I think should be next for the four fighters involved in the top fights at UFC 294.

Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev wanted to make a statement in the rematch against Alexander Volkanovski and he did just that. The first fight was super competitive and some even thought Volkanovski won, but in the rematch, Makhachev landed a head kick and finished Volkanovski off with ground-and-pound.

After the win, Makhachev has options for his next fight, and although he was booked ot face Charles Oliveira originally, I think Justin Gaethje should get the next title shot. Makhachev didn’t take much damage so you can turn him around for the first quarter of 2024 and a matchup against Gaethje would be highly anticipated.

Alexander Volkanovski

Alexander Volkanovski tried to become a champ-champ once again but fell short at UFC 294.

After Volkanovski suffered the first-round knockout loss to Islam Makhachev, the Aussie will return to featherweight and look to continue to defend his belt there. Volkanovski’s next opponent will be Ilia Topuria, and the hope for Volkanovski is he can return in January in Toronto.

Khamzat Chimaev

Khamzat Chimaev

Khamzat Chimaev ended his 13-month layoff on Saturday as he took on Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

Chimaev started out strong as he took Usman down and had his back for nearly the entire round landing some ground-and-pound shots. After that, it looked like he started to tire out but still did enough in the third round to edge it out and win a majority decision.

Although this was billed as a title eliminator fight, Chimaev thinks he broke his hand which will keep him out of action for a bit. I do think he needs another fight, and preferably a five-rounder against Jared Cannonier with the winner getting a title shot.

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman is on a three-fight losing streak and is in a weird spot in his career as whether he stays at middleweight or goes back to welterweight is uncertain.

Outside of the first round, Usman fought Khamzat Chimaev very competently at UFC 294 and proved he still is a top fighter. I would like to see him stay at middleweight and start to build back up. A logical next fight is the eighth-ranked Jack Hermansson who has struggled as of late and could be a good test for Usman to see if he belongs in the top 10.


Alex Volkanovski Islam Makhachev Kamaru Usman Khamzat Chimaev UFC