Two major fights announced for UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi

Islam Makhachev will defend his lightweight title against Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 294, after Khamzat Chimaev returns against Paulo Costa.

Makhachev won the vacant lightweight title by submitting Oliveira in Abu Dhabi last October, and now the pair will return to the scene of that fight almost exactly one year later as they headline again at the Etihad Arena.

The 31-year-old Russian Makhachev has since retained the belt against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, beating the Australian by close decision in February. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Oliveira rebounded from his loss to Makhachev by knocking out Beneil Dariush in the first round in June.

Oliveira, 33, won the lightweight title in 2021 after Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s childhood friend and trainer, vacated it following the icon’s retirement. Oliveira was stripped of gold last May after losing weight, a day before his planned title defense against Justin Gaethje, whom he submitted in Round 1 to set up his first fight with Makhachev.

In the co-main event of UFC 294, Chimaev will face former middleweight title challenger Costa in a late change to the UFC schedule.

Costa, a former title challenger, was due to fight Ikram Aliskerov at UFC 291 on July 29, but the Brazilian will now face Chimaev on the same night that Aliskerov faces Nassourdine Imavov.

The undefeated Chimaev has fought at both middleweight and welterweight in the UFC, most recently facing Kevin Holland in a 180-pound middleweight bout in September. The Russian-born Swede submitted the Netherlands in the first round, after losing weight and seeing his planned welterweight clash with Nate Diaz fail.

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