UFC 294 was already set to be a memorable night, but the match between Kamaru Usman and Khamzat Chimaev added an electrifying dimension. With a former welterweight champion facing a potential future titleholder, MMA enthusiasts had their expectations high.
The Wrestling Showdown
The wrestling segment of this bout attracted numerous speculations. Right from the get-go, "Borz" Chimaev showcased his mastery, taking Usman to the mat and securing a dominant position. This move was unexpected, especially to fans of the Nigerian fighter.
While Usman's primary focus was to defend against a potential choke, Chimaev sought to exploit every opening. Though Chimaev dominated the first round, Usman's resilience shone through as he made it to his corner with a smile, having staved off the most aggressive attacks.
The second round presented a different scenario. Both fighters approached cautiously, almost as if they were recalibrating their strategies. While Chimaev appeared drained from his explosive first round, Usman displayed expert boxing skills, landing the two most solid punches of the round.
Still, neither fighter emerged as a clear victor from these five minutes.
Twists and Turns in Round Three
As the final round began, it was evident that both fighters had reassessed their game plans. Chimaev’s initial takedown attempt was thwarted easily by Usman.
As the round progressed, the spectators witnessed some open exchanges, with both fighters landing clean shots. But a critical misstep by Usman shifted the dynamics dramatically. Chimaev capitalized on this mistake, taking Usman down and controlling the fight from a dominant position.
By the time Usman returned to his feet, only seconds remained. His last-ditch efforts weren't enough to turn the tide.
A Victory, but at What Cost?
Khamzat Chimaev may have secured a majority decision win (29-27, 29-27, 28-28), but this wasn't a performance that left an indelible mark on MMA aficionados.
Usman, having joined this fight on just ten days' notice, posed significant challenges to the younger Chimaev. While the win was a notch on Chimaev's belt, questions linger about his readiness for the title bout against Sean Strickland.
As anticipation builds, all eyes will be on Dana White. Will he maintain his earlier stance on granting Chimaev a title shot after such a performance? Only time will tell.