UFC 294 is packed with exciting fights between some of the biggest names in the sport. In the light heavyweight division, former title challenger Magomed Ankalaev will face off against the entertaining Johnny Walker. Ankalaev fought Jan Blachowicz for the vacant championship at UFC 282 in a controversial draw. Walker is on a three-fight winning streak, and a win over the 2nd-ranked Ankalaev could place him firmly in contention for the gold belt.
Ankalaev debuted in the UFC against Paul Craig in 2018. He dominated the fight until the latter pulled off a miraculous submission with only a second to spare. The Russian recovered from the loss in awe-inspiring fashion by winning his next nine fights until the stalemate against former champion Jan Blachowicz.
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Johnny Walker graduated from the UFC with a win in Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. He spectacularly finished his first three opponents and won as many Performance of the Night honors. But his momentum all but stopped with four losses in his next five fights. He has bounced back remarkably since, with wins over Ion Cutelaba, Paul Craig, and Anthony Smith.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker stats
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Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker Fight prediction
Though Magomed Ankalaev comes from a combat sambo background, he prefers stand-up. He lands 3.55 significant strikes per minute with 52% accuracy. His opponents land 2.15 strikes per minute against him, but he has a defense rate of 59%. He averages less than one takedown per 15 minutes but defends 86% of takedown attempts against him. He has never attempted a submission in his career.
Johnny Walker averages a few more significant strikes per minute, at 3.85. They are also slightly more accurate at 56%. His defense is weaker than Ankalaev’s, as he absorbs 2.58 strikes per minute and defends only 46% of those thrown by his opponents. Walker’s takedown numbers are negligible, but he has been successful in all those he has attempted. He defends 60% of takedowns and averages one submission every 15 minutes.
This high-stakes clash is an intriguing stylistic match-up, as on the one hand, there’s the conventional Russian, Magomed Ankalaev, and on the other hand, there’s the unconventional Brazilian, Johnny Walker. Ankalaev is a patient, powerful, ruthless finisher with good timing and a formidable ground game in his arsenal. Walker is a wild, unpredictable counter-striker with 100% takedown accuracy.
In his last fight against Blachowicz, Ankalaev was battered with leg kicks, and that might be a weakness that Walker will try to exploit. The Russian has also been caught unawares a few times in his career. That could prove especially dangerous against Walker, who specializes in lulling his opponents into complacency before exploding with a bolt from the blue.
When the odds have gone against him in the past, Ankalaev has relied on his takedowns and grappling to regain lost ground. Walker has a reach advantage against most opponents but has been knocked out clean a few times. He has a competent ground game, which he uses to force the fight back to the feet. In this matchup, Johnny Walker might win against Magomed Ankalaev via TKO.