UFC 294 was set up very carefully months and months ago. Indeed, Islam Makhachev and Khamzat Chimaev have sat out for several months in anticipation of the important Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, pay-per-view (PPV) show in two weeks (Oct. 21, 2023).
But, the MMA Gods clearly have a dark sense of humor, because UFC’s best laid plans are all unraveling two weeks out from the show. The main- and co-main events have been hit with injuries, resulting in a wild scramble to keep the latest PPV event from completely imploding.
Last night, it was revealed that Charles Oliveira had suffered a cut in training and is out of his Lightweight title fight with Makhachev. Alexander Volkanovski will now fight in his stead, setting up a “Champ vs. Champ” runback of their UFC 284 clash. The shuffle may not end there. Paulo Costa recently revealed he’d undergone surgery to treat bursitis in his elbow, and now we’re learning the injury may not have healed in time to get doctor’s clearance.
When asked if Costa might be taken off UFC 294 due to the injury, White didn’t dodge the question.
“Yeah, it’s possible,” White admitted before promising an update. “Very soon. Very soon. Unless another f—ing big mouth pops up out of somewhere, you know what I mean? So yeah, hopefully within a couple of hours I’ll have an answer for you.”
White was still seething over the Oliveira news making it out into the world before he had a chance to talk to his partners in Abu Dhabi. He definitely won’t be happy about the bigmouths at the Overdogs Podcast — they’re the ones that broke the news about Oliveira being off UFC 294. They also had Anthony Pettis on, who was first to reveal that Paulo Costa had undergone surgery.
Now, they’re claiming Costa is definitely out of his fight with Chimaev.
“Paulo Costa is OUT!” they claimed. “UFC struggling to find someone to fight Khamzat on short notice. [Marvin] Vettori reportedly declined.”
While Costa has made it crystal clear that he wants to fight even with his lingering injury, stitches heal when they heal and bursitis is no joke. Alan Jouban recently discussed what happened to him after fighting too soon after bursitis surgery: the stitches ripped apart and his whole elbow tore back open.
Fortunately, UFC is making big moves to secure quality replacements for its Oct. 21 card. Abu Dhabi was an early big-money investor in UFC back before the sport exploded. And it saved the promotion’s bacon during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to set up “Fight Island.” Dana White has made it a point to bring big fights to the region, and he’s working hard to ensure UFC 294 doesn’t look like a joke in comparison to “Riyadh Season.”
“We’re talking to a couple of people right now,” White said regarding alternate plans.
And we’ll keep you informed as this story develops.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 294 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 294: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.