A new era in the lightweight division started this Saturday.
Islam Makhachev put together a dominant performance against former titleholder Charles Oliveira on Saturday night to earn the vacant belt.
Makhachev’s win headlined UFC 280 from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Makhachev was able to submit Oliveira in the second round with an arm triangle choke. This submission came after he scored a knockdown, dropping Oliveira with a right hook earlier in the round.
Makhachev had a successful round prior to the finish as well. He was able to notch a pair of takedowns against Oliveira in the first round, using these positions to control most of the frame.
The victory for Makhachev was the culmination of an extensive run of wins in the promotion. He entered this weekend with a long 10-fight winning streak, including two main event victories.
Makhachev celebrated during his post-fight interview with Khabib Nurmagomedov, a former lightweight champion who retired in 2020 with an undefeated record.
Makhachev also dedicated the fight to Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who passed away two years ago.
Makhachev looked to set up a super-fight against current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski after his performance this weekend, proposing a fight against him at UFC 284 next year in Australia.
Volkanovski, who was in attendance, accepted the challenge.
“The lightweight belt on the line, the pound-for-pound on the line. Let’s do it,” Volkanovski said.
Oliveira was aiming to gain back the 155-pound belt this weekend. He was a champion from 2021 to 2022 but was stripped of the title in May after missing weight for a fight against Justin Gaethje.
Saturday was Oliveira’s first loss since 2017.
Shoulder Injury For Dillashaw Causes Early Stoppage Against Sterling
An early injury gave TJ Dillashaw major troubles, eventually contributing to a second round loss to UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling.
An injury became apparent on Dillashaw after Sterling took him down in the first round. Dillashaw was grimacing in pain on the ground while Sterling landed dozens of ground and pound shots.
Dillashaw went to his corner with a visibly dislocated shoulder after surviving the first round. His corner was able to help adjust his arm in-between rounds, allowing Dillashaw to continue the fight.
Sterling continued to succeed in the second round, taking Dillashaw down again and unloading with ground and pound strikes. This dominant position for Sterling eventually forced a finish, as the referee stepped in and stopped the fight.
Dillashaw’s shoulder issues allegedly weren’t a surprise to some.
Referee Mark Goddard told the UFC broadcast that he knew about an injury to Dillashaw’s shoulder before the fight took place In his post-fight interview, Dillashaw claimed that he first started to struggle with shoulder issues all the way back in April.
Sterling has now defended his bantamweight belt twice. He previously earned the belt off Petr Yan in 2021 and closed out his rivalry with the former titleholder with a second victory over him this year.
Dillashaw was attempting to claim UFC champion status for the third time in his career. His previous title run came to an end in 2019, as a failed drug test caused him to get stripped of his belt and face a two-year suspension.
Dillashaw made his return from said suspension last year, defeating Cory Sandhagen in the main event of a UFC “Fight Night.”
O’Malley Takes Nod Over Yan In ‘Fight of the Year’ Contender
Sean O’Malley potentially made himself next in line for a bantamweight title fight this weekend, sneaking past former titleholder Petr Yan in a split decision result.
The back-and-forth bout had “Fight of the Year” contender factors to it. It started with a close first round where both bantamweights connected with strikes.
An explosive second round followed. O’Malley was the first to make an impact, visibly rocking Yan with a left cross. Yan answered back with a left hand of his own only seconds later, wobbling O’Malley and causing him to get taken down.
Yan then continued to control most of the second round afterward.
Both fighters continued to hurt each other in an incredibly tight final round of the fight. O’Malley was able to stun Yan again in the third minute with a combination of knees and punches to the head, but like times before, Yan responded shortly after with his own clean shots.
O’Malley admitted after the fight that he wasn’t sure whether judges would pick him as the winner.
“I didn’t know, honestly. I thought it could have gone either way,” said O’Malley in the post-fight interview.
Saturday was arguably O’Malley’s first big win in the UFC. Since 2017 when he joined the promotion, O’Malley has showcased flashy performances against some of the lower-ranked names at bantamweight. He has gained a large following through this time, in part due to his fighting style but also because of his provocative persona as well.
Yan was aiming to come back after losing a split decision loss to UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling earlier this year.
Dariush Earns Eighth Consecutive Victory At Lightweight
Beneil Dariush picked up another big win at lightweight this weekend, utilizing his striking skills to defeat Mateusz Gamrot via unanimous decision.
It became clear early in the fight that Gamrot had a gameplan that was ground-focused. He scored numerous takedowns in the first frame, although Dariush was able to stop some attempts and pop back up onto his feet right after.
Dariush was able to keep the fight on the feet during the second and third rounds, allowing him to piece Gamrot up with sharp strikes. He succeeded on the perimeter fighter of the cage, often countering shots from Gamrot.
Dariush’s biggest strike came late in the fight, briefly flooring Gamrot with an overhand left.
Saturday’s outcome continued Dariush’s strong campaign up the lightweight rankings. His last fight was more than a year ago, dominating Tony Ferguson for a unanimous decision win at UFC 262.
Dariush expressed patience in his post-fight interview, saying that it’s out of his control whether he will get a title fight next.
Gamrot, a former KSW two-division champion, had a four-fight run of wins together before his defeat this weekend. He picked up his first-ever UFC main event win earlier this year, sneaking past Arman Tsarukyan for a decision win.
Fiorot Beats Former Title Challenger Chookagian, Remains Undefeated In UFC
Manon Fiorot made herself one of the top contenders at flyweight on Saturday night, overcoming former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian in a unanimous decision result.
Fiorot got the win in a close battle that was primarily in a stand-up position. The fight was close in the end, as Chookagian earned one round on all three of the judge’s scorecards.
The fight continued Fiorot’s undefeated run on the UFC roster. She has now scored five consecutive wins since joining the promotion in early 2021.
Fiorot’s previous fight was another win over an experienced fighter, defeating Jennifer Maia in March.
Chookagian entered the card with a strong four-fight winning streak at flyweight. She earned two high-profile wins earlier this year, defeating Jennifer Maia and Amanda Ribas.
The Rest of the Card
Belal Muhammad handed Sean Brady his first pro loss Saturday, using his boxing skills to overwhelm him and force a second-round stoppage.
Caio Borralho kept his momentum going, picking up a decision victory over Makhmud Muradov to win his third consecutive fight since joining the UFC roster.
After evading a troubling first round that saw him nearly get finished, Nikita Krylov used ground control to earn a decision victory over Armen Petrosyan.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov was successful in his first appearance in over a year, defeating Gadzhi Omargadzhiev on scorecards. Nurmagomedov now has a two-fight winning streak in the promotion.
Armen Petrosyan returned to the win column this Saturday, prevailing in a slow-paced striking battle over AJ Dobson in a unanimous decision result.
Undefeated flyweight Mohammed Mokaev scored his third UFC win this weekend, submitting Malcolm Gordon with an armbar in the third round. The submission came after a successful but challenging performance for him earlier in the fight.
A point deduction didn’t stop Karol Rosa this weekend, as she mostly used grappling control to earn a majority decision over Pannie Kianzad. The bout bounced Rosa back from her sole UFC loss and gave Kianzad her third consecutive defeat.
Main Card (2:00PM EDT / 10:00PM GST) (PPV)
Bout 12: Islam Makhachev def. Charles Oliveira via Submission, Arm Triangle Choke (RD 2, 3:16) (Vacant UFC Lightweight Championship)
Bout 11: Aljamain Sterling def. TJ Dillashaw via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 3:44) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)
Bout 10: Sean O’Malley def. Petr Yan via Decision, Split
Bout 9: Beneil Dariush def. Mateusz Gamrot via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 8: Manon Fiorot def. Katlyn Chookagian via Decision, Unanimous
Preliminary Card (12:00PM EDT / 8:00PM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)
Bout 7: Belal Muhammad def. Sean Brady via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 4:47)
Bout 6: Caio Borralho def. Makhmud Muradov via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 5: Nikita Krylov def. Volkan Oezdemir via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Abubakar Nurmagomedov def. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev via Decision, Unanimous
Early Prelims (10:30AM EDT / 6:30PM GST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 3: Armen Petrosyan def. AJ Dobson via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Mohammed Mokaev def. Malcolm Gordon via Submission, Armbar (RD 3, 4:26)
Bout 1: Karol Rosa def. Lina Lansberg via Decision, Majority