UFC CEO Dana White, has announced that the winner of the UFC 294 co-main event on October 21, featuring Khamzat Chimaev and Kamaru Usman, will earn a shot at the 185-pound championship. In other words, the winner of the bout will have a shot at facing the current champion, Sean Strickland, for the title.
This latest announcement by White is a response to the short notice on which both fighters accepted the fight. White emphasized that the winner will receive a title opportunity, subject to considerations like injuries or unforeseen circumstances.
Kamaru Usman, aged 36, stepped in as a replacement for the injured Paulo Costa, just 10 days before the scheduled fight against Khamzat Chimaev. Usman, a former welterweight champion with a record of 20 wins from 23 fights, moves up to the middleweight division following two consecutive title fight losses in the 170-pound division against current champion Leon Edwards.
He previously held a dominant reign over the welterweight division, defending his title five times. His most recent bout was at UFC 286 in March where he lost for a second time to Edwards. Now, the Nigerian Nightmare is aiming for redemption and a chance at being champion once again in a new division.
Khamzat Chimaev, aged 29, also hasn’t competed for an extended period. His last victory came in a match against Kevin Holland at UFC 279 in September, although he missed weight for that bout. Following discussions with his team and the UFC, Chimaev, with an unblemished record of 12 fights, decided to make the move up to the middleweight division, where he has already secured two wins in the UFC.
Both Usman and Chimaev have a shot at being the title contender in a division they have not fought in before. The win could go either ways, which is what makes the fixture very promising and worth looking forward to.
UFC 294 will hold next week Saturday, October 21, at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.