Everything you need to know about UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev

Publish Date
Friday, 21 October 2022, 9:09AM

ACC UFC contributor Felix Heath-Collins with everything you need to know ahead of UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev.

We've finally arrived at the big one, UFC 280! This weekend's PPV (Pay-Per-View) is a fantastic offering of elite-level MMA, topped off with two world title fights. To be brutally honest, the last three fight nights are slightly embarrassing in comparison. I wouldn't blame fans for skipping straight from last month's UFC 279 PPV right to this month's UFC 280 PPV. Because 279 was great, but 280 is insane.

UFC 280's main event sees former champion Charles "do Bronx" Oliveira attempt to reclaim the vacant lightweight belt against the Dagestani prodigy Islam Makhachev.

Charles "do Bronx" Oliveira (33-8) (wins-losses) is the lightweight division's submission king. 17 of Oliveira's 33 professional wins have come via submission, and 15 of those 17 submissions were chokes (7 rear naked chokes, 4 guillotines, a triangle choke, a D'Arce choke, a Peruvian necktie choke, and an anaconda choke). Currently on an 11-fight win streak and constantly improving in his striking, recently Oliveira has seemed unstoppable even against the pinnacle of lightweight competition like Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier and Justin "The Highlight" Gaethje. Simply put, Oliveira would still be king if not for missing weight in his last title defence - he won the fight, but was ineligible to defend the belt due to the weight miss.

In the other corner is Islam Makhachev (22-1), who is the cousin and prodigy of former undefeated lightweight champion and all-time-great Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov. Minus one big loss (via first-round knockout), Islam Makhachev is undefeated in his MMA career. Throughout his career, Makhachev has claimed numerous wins via decision, KO/TKO, and submission. He's your typical dominant Dagestani wrestler with serious submission skills, and a hint of striking ability to round out his superbly balanced skillset. The one obvious concern with Makhachev's record is his lack of elite competition. Recently Makhachev has dominantly won fights against competition like Drew Dober, Dan Hooker, and Bobby Green, but those three pale in comparison to many of the names on Oliveira's list of victims.

So who wins this weekend's main event? To me, the obvious choice would be Charles Oliveira. His record speaks volumes about overcoming adversity and he has a history of toppling the titans of MMA. On the feet, I'd give the advantage to Oliveira, while the wrestling advantage goes to Makhachev. But the super significant factor in my eyes is the devastating submission skills of Oliveira. I can imagine Makhachev will secure the takedown only to find himself in Oliveira's world of limb wrenching and suffocation. I've got Oliveira via submission.

The co-main event isn't your typical title fight between fan favourites, it's actually a title fight between two fighters considered infamous.

Aljamain "Funk Master" Sterling (21-3) is the reigning, defending champion of the bantamweight division. Sterling boasts a balanced style of MMA that blends an equal amount of striking, wrestling, and submissions to identify and exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. The top prospect from the storied Serra-Longo fight team, Sterling has proven himself to be a championship-level fighter time and time again. Many fans might've turned on him for winning the belt off Petr "No Mercy" Yan due to an illegal knee to Sterling's head (on the ground), but "Funk Master" proved himself yet again in his rematch with Yan, which he won via decision. Now the bantamweight division is fairly thin at the top, and so a former champion is being pushed to the front of the queue.

Enter everyone's least favourite fighter T.J. Dillashaw (17-4). At one time Dillashaw was the untouchable king of the bantamweight division, who in his prime dominated the likes of Renan Barão, Raphael Assunção, John Lineker, and Cody Garbrandt. At the start of 2019, all of the respect Dillashaw had earned through blood, sweat, and tears was gone. He cut weight down to challenge for the flyweight championship belt against "The King of Cringe" Henry Cejudo. Not only did Dillashaw want the belt, but he also wanted to facilitate UFC president Dana White's goal of dissolving the division. After talking a very big game about being a "mercenary" hired to kill the lightest weight class, Dillashaw ended up metaphorically falling on his face and wetting himself when he was knocked out by the 5'4" Cejudo in 32 seconds flat, and then failing a drug test for the fight a few days later due to EPO abuse, before finally being banned from competition for two years. Yikes! One (universally contested) decision win over Cory Sandhagen and Dillashaw already has another opportunity to reclaim the belt he was stripped of for cheating.

Who wins the co-main event? Aljamain Sterling. While in reality, the fight is very close between these two championship-level competitors, a win for Dillashaw would suck all the life out of the bantamweight division for me. He's an unlikeable, blood-doping, cheater with a smug self-satisfaction that makes even the most hardcore of MMA fans quickly lose interest. Unfortunately for me, Dillashaw is also a superbly dangerous striker with a dominant wrestling base to top it off. Whatever happens, this one will be an interesting battle between the past and present of the division fighting to become the future. I've got Sterling via submission, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

These two unmissable fights cap off an incredible night of MMA action. The main card of UFC 280 starts at 7:00 AM this Sunday for us here in New Zealand, with the preliminary card beginning a few hours earlier at the super early time of 3:00 AM. Enjoy!

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