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Makhachev vs Oliveira official for UFC 294 as Khamzat Chimaev returns on undercard

The lightweight title is on the line in a highly-anticipated rematch in October

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Thursday 20 July 2023 11:22 BST
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Islam Makhachev will defend his lightweight title against Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 294, after Khamzat Chimaev makes his return 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 on, as they headline at the Etihad Arena again.

Russian Makhachev, 31, has since retained the belt against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, beating the Australian with a narrow decision in February. Meanwhile, Brazilian Oliveira bounced back from his loss to Makhachev by stopping Beneil Dariush in the first round in June.

Oliveira, 33, won the lightweight title in 2021 after it was vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov – Makhachev’s coach and childhood friend – upon the icon’s retirement. Oliveira was stripped of the gold last May after missing weight, one day before his planned title defence against Justin Gaethje, whom he submitted in Round 1 to set up his first bout with Makhachev.

In the co-main event of UFC 294, Chimaev will take on former title challenger Costa at middleweight, in a late change to the UFC’s scheduling.

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

The unbeaten Chimaev has fought at both middleweight and welterweight in the UFC, and he most recently faced Kevin Holland in a catchweight bout at 180lbs in September. The Russian-born Swede submitted Holland in the first round, after missing weight and seeing his planned welterweight clash with Nate Diaz fall through.

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