October 22nd sees the return of UFC to the United Arab Emirates at the 18,000-seater Etihad Arena. Set on the waterfront of Yas Bay, the arena is the Middle East’s largest state-of-the-art indoor entertainment venue and will play host to two title fights on a huge night of action at UFC 280.
The main event sees the vacant lightweight title up for grabs with former titleholder Charles Oliveira taking on contender Islam Makhachev., while the other title bout features bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling taking on former titleholder TJ Dillashaw.
Add to that an all action undercard featuring the likes of Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush vs Mateusz Gamrot, Katlyn ChookAgian vs Manon Fiorot plus many more, and it promises to be a night to remember.
The Fight Card
Lightweight Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev
Bantamweight Aljamain Sterling vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Bantamweight Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley
Lightweight Beneil Dariush vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Women’s Flyweight Katlyn Chookagian vs. Manon Fiorot
Welterweight Belal Muhammad vs. Sean Brady
Middleweight Makhmud Muradov vs. Caio Borralho
Light Heavyweight Nikita Krylov vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Lucas Almeida
Welterweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev
Flyweight Muhammad Mokaev vs. Malcolm Gordon
Heavyweight Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Jailton Almeida
Charles Oliveira (33-8-0, 1NC) vs. Islam Makhachev (22-1-0)
Brazilian Oliveira won the vacant UFC lightweight title with a second-round technical knockout win over Michael Chandler at UFC 262 in May 2021. Victory against Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 in December 2021, with a third-round submission, would prove to be his final defense however after Oliveira failed to make weight and was stripped of the title before his bout with Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 in May.
Makhachev will not be overawed however and is on a 10-fight winning streak of his own. The 30-year-old Makhachev is 22-1 in his career but Oliveira is definitely the toughest fight the Russian has faced in the UFC so far. Of the 11 men Makhachev has beaten in the UFC, only Dan Hooker (who was then ranked 9) was in the world’s top ten.
Oliveira is on an impressive 11-fight win streak and is top of the current UFC rankings for the lightweight division. Makhachev is ranked fourth and may well be trained by his good friend Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the current UFC fight odds point to the Brazilian reclaiming the vacant lightweight title.
Aljamain Sterling (21-3-0) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (18-4-0)
Current champion Sterling will be defending his title after his controversial win back in March 2021, when the then champion, Petr Yan, was disqualified after hitting Sterling with an illegal knee – the first UFC champion to ever lose his belt via disqualification. In the rematch Sterling won via split decision.
Dillashaw relinquished the bantamweight title back in March 2019 after a failed drug test and a 12-month suspension. His comeback victory against Cory Sandhagen in Las Vegas, in July 2021, is the 36-year-olds only fight in three years. But the American has the chance to be the first three-time bantamweight champion in UFC history.
This is an intriguing fight between two of the best fighters in the division, as Sterling’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighting style goes up against Dillashaw’s wrestling skills. Dillashaw has a history as a motivator, but Sterling is the favorite and is expected to retain his title against the former champion.
Petr Yan (16-3-0) vs. Sean O’Malley (15-1-0)
Former champion Petr Yan takes on Sean O’Malley, in one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of UFC 280. The fight is a huge step up in class for O’Malley who currently sits at number 12 in the UFC bantamweight rankings, compared to the more experienced Yan, who ranks number 2nd.
O’Malley is one of the UFC’s best young fighters and also one of its most popular, but it’s a big ask for him to defeat the Russian, despite his height and reach advantage. The American has only fought one ranked opponent in all his fights in the UFC – No.9 contender Pedro Munhoz, which ended in a no contest.
Yan will be eager for a win to put him back in the bantamweight title talk, after his controversial loss against current champion Aljamain Sterling.
When the fight was first announced, Yan was a huge favorite, but as the bout draws closer and O’Malley starts to talk up his chances, the odds have started drifting. Yan remains the favorite, however, but this could be closer than it looks.
With nine other brilliant bouts on the card for UFC 280 in the United Arab Emirates, October 22nd can’t come soon enough.