Ankalaev vs. Walker: From High Hopes to 'No Contest' in Round One

UFC 294 was brimming with anticipation, especially as top 10 fighters in the light heavyweight division were scheduled to take the stage.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Ankalaev vs. Walker: From High Hopes to 'No Contest' in Round One
© Getty Images Sport/Carmen Mandato

UFC 294 was brimming with anticipation, especially as top 10 fighters in the light heavyweight division were scheduled to take the stage. But the clash between the second-ranked Magomed Ankalaev and the seventh-ranked Johnny Walker took an unexpected twist that left fans both shocked and disappointed.

Tactical Beginnings

The battle began as a tactical chess match. Walker, leveraging his reach advantage, initiated with a series of low kicks. Yet Ankalaev wasn't to be outdone. He responded in kind, mirroring Walker's techniques.

This back-and-forth exchange gave the initial rounds a "tit-for-tat" feel. Ankalaev then delivered a powerful body kick that Walker seemed to "feel" deeply. However, in a twist of strategy, Walker appeared to feign the effect of the blow.

Seizing the moment, he launched a spectacular flying knee, catching Ankalaev off-guard. This move saw both fighters end up on the mat, setting the stage for the evening's most controversial moment.

The Turning Point: An Illegal Move

Amid the ground combat, the Dagestani fighter, Ankalaev, made a critical error.

He delivered an illegal knee to Walker's head, bringing the fight to an abrupt pause. The immediate concern was for Walker's safety. Following a medical evaluation, it was determined that the Brazilian was unfit to continue. This decision fueled tensions inside the octagon.

A visibly frustrated Walker wanted to push on, his competitive spirit undeterred by the illegal blow. Yet, safety protocols prevailed, and the match was declared a "no contest." There was palpable tension between the two fighters post-decision, with officials stepping in to prevent a further altercation.

It was evident that both warriors had been fiercely prepared, and the premature end to their duel left an unsatisfying void for them and the fans alike. The dramatic turn of events during the Ankalaev-Walker bout cast a shadow over UFC 294. While the event promised high-octane action, this particular match left many yearning for a definitive conclusion.

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