Saturday’s UFC 294 pay-per-view will mark a big one in the career of light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev.
The Russian contender, who currently occupies the #2 spot at 205 pounds, had a less than successful trip to Las Vegas last time out in December 2022. There, he failed to win the vacant title against Jan Błachowicz and caused quite a stir with his post-fight fury at the judges’ decision.
Ankalaev has been on the sidelines ever since, but he’ll finally have the chance to bounce back this weekend in Abu Dhabi, where he’s slated to fight down the pecking order against the in-form Johnny Walker.
Despite UFC CEO Dana White’s take on Ankalaev and his opponent’s efforts 10 months ago, the Dagestani is hoping to earn another crack at championship status by stalling Walker’s charge on October 21.
Should he do so, Ankalaev’s attention will turn to his division’s next title fight in a few weeks’ time.
Ankalaev Assesses Procházka vs. Pereira Matchup
During his appearance at UFC 294 media day on Wednesday, Ankalaev analyzed the pairing who will next compete for the light heavyweight belt, which is currently vacant yet again after an injury to Jamahal Hill led to him relinquishing it.
Although Saturday’s numbered event boasts a high-stakes affair at 205 pounds, the division will truly be under the spotlight at UFC 295 on November 11, when former champion Jiří Procházka looks to put a stop to ex-middleweight kingpin Alex Pereira’s two-weight ambitions.
Ankalaev can see the co-main event at Madison Square Garden going either way depending on its duration.
“I think that’s an exciting fight. I think the two of them make for a fun fight,” Ankalaev said. “I think if the fight lasts five rounds, then Procházka is the one that’s gonna have the win. But, if it (ends) fast, then maybe it’s going to be Pereira. But it’s not something I’m thinking about just now. Now I have a fight that I have to concentrate on in front of me, and then we’ll talk about titles.”
The Russian does indeed have a fight fast approaching, and it’ll see him share the cage with a willing dance partner when it comes to the extra emphasis he’s looking to put on entertainment this time around.
Like most, Ankalaev thinks that will come naturally when knockout artists Procházka and Pereira throw down next month.
Thank you to everyone who is behind me⚡️🙏⚡️. Above all, to my team, family and friends. We are going to the final part of the preparation.#IAMVICTORY #LHWCHAMPION #INCANDESCENT pic.twitter.com/PcoosaK4N0
— Jiri BJP Prochazka (@jiri_bjp) October 10, 2023
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