UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev Preview

UFC will present one of its most stacked cards of the year this Saturday when it heads back to the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Charles Oliveira will attempt to regain the UFC Lightweight Championship in the main event, competing for the vacant belt against Islam Makhachev. Oliveira was UFC’s most recent champion in the weight class but had to vacate the belt earlier this year after missing weight for a title fight. He has a legitimate opponent across from him this weekend as he attempts to get back the status he earned more than a year ago.

UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling will look to defend his belt for the second time in the main event, meeting two-time former champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round fight.

Those bouts, plus 10 other matchups are expected to take place at UFC 280. Here’s a full preview of the evening

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Early Prelims (10:30AM EDT / 6:30PM GST) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)

Bout 1: Lina Lansberg (10-6) vs. Karol Rosa (15-4) (Bantamweight)

The evening will begin at bantamweight, where Lina Lansberg and Karol Rosa will compete.

Rosa suffered her first UFC loss earlier this year, losing a decision to Sara McMann in March. She had a solid four-fight winning streak going in the promotion before then.

Lansberg will be fighting for her first win since 2019. She has suffered two decision losses in recent years, not being favored against McMann or Pannie Kianzad.

Bout 2: Muhammad Mokaev (7-0) vs. Malcolm Gordon (14-5) (Flyweight)

Undefeated flyweight prospect Muhammad Mokaev will look for his third UFC victory this weekend when he faces Malcolm Gordon.

Mokaev had an impressive UFC debut in March, submitting Cody Durden in just 58 seconds with a guillotine choke. He then returned in July to earn a decision victory over former LFA champion Charles Johnson.

Gordon is also entering this weekend on a two-fight winning streak. The first victory came via decision against Francisco Figueiredo in 2021, giving Gordon his first UFC win and ending a two-fight losing streak. He then returned in February of this year, when an early injury forced opponent Denys Bondar out of their fight.

Bout 3: Armen Petrosyan (6-2) vs. AJ Dobson (6-1) (Middleweight)

Middleweights Armen Petrosyan and AJ Dobson will compete next.

Dobson took his first pro loss in his UFC debut earlier this year, not prevailing in a decision against Jacob Malkoun in February. He had six wins as a pro before then, including a submission victory on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”

Petrosyan is also coming off a defeat, having dropped a decision to Caio Borralho in July.

Preliminary Card (12:00PM EDT / 8:00PM GST) (ESPN+ / TSN 5)

Bout 4: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3-1) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1) (Welterweight)

Abubakar Nurmagomedov will make his return to the UFC cage this weekend when he faces Gadzhi Omargadzhiev.

Nurmagomedov’s last fight came in March 2021, when he beat Jared Gooden to earn his first UFC victory. This weekend, the WSOF alum will make his first appearance in over a year.

Omargadzhiev joined the UFC roster in 2021 with a kneebar victory over Jansey Silva on “Dana White’s Contender Series.” He then lost his UFC debut this year, dropping a technical decision to Caio Borralho. Prior to his UFC run, Omargadzhiev had a flawless record of 13 wins.

Bout 5: Volkan Oezdemir (18-6) vs. Nikita Krylov (28-9) (Light Heavyweight)

In a matchup between two light heavyweight veterans, Volkan Oezdemir and Nikita Krylov will meet on the prelims.

Both fighters snapped a two-fight skid in their last appearance. Oezdemir’s victory came in July, when he prevailed over Paul Craig in a unanimous decision. Krylov had a much quicker outing that same month, finishing Alexander Gustafsson in just over a minute with punches.

Bout 6: Makhmud Muradov (25-7) vs. Caio Borralho (12-1) (Middleweight)

Caio Borralho will attempt to keep his strong UFC run going when he faces Makhmud Muradov on Saturday night.

Borralho has yet to lose since joining the UFC through “Dana White’s Contender Series” last year. He handed Gadzhi Omargadzhiev his first pro loss in April, beating him in a technical decision. He then returned in July to overcome Armen Petrosyan.

Muradov will be aiming to return after taking his first UFC loss. That defeat came against veteran Gerald Meerschaert in 2021, who submitted him in the second round of their fight. He had a trio of wins in the promotion before then.

Bout 7: Belal Muhammad (21-3) vs. Sean Brady (15-0) (Welterweight)

In a high-level matchup at welterweight, undefeated Sean Brady will face Belal Muhammad in the final prelim of the night.

Brady has picked up five victories since first joining the UFC roster in 2019. His last victory was nearly a year ago, defeating veteran Michael Chiesa in November 2021. This weekend is a big opportunity for Brady, as a victory would most certainly be his biggest win as a pro.

Muhammad has competed against some of the top names at welterweight in recent years. He’s on somewhat of a roll as of late, having scored a trio of victories over the past year and a half. His last win was a big one, going five rounds against Vicente Luque for a decision.

Main Card (2:00PM EDT / 10:00PM GST) (PPV)

Bout 8: Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) vs. Manon Fiorot (9-1) (Flyweight)

Manon Fiorot will get a big opportunity this weekend, facing former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian in a PPV position.

Fiorot has yet to lose since joining the UFC roster in early 2021. She prevailed in a step-up test earlier this year, beating Jennifer Maia on scorecards in March. She had three victories in the promotion before then.

Chookagian is on her way to another title fight if she can keep her momentum going. She has scored four consecutive victories since 2020, including many against high-level names in the division. She has already earned two wins this year, defeating Jennifer Maia and Amanda Ribas.

Bout 9: Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (21-1) (Lightweight)

A pivotal fight at lightweight will take place on Saturday’s main card when Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot square off.

Gamrot entered the UFC in 2020 after an incredibly successful campaign in the Polish MMA promotion KSW. While he lost his UFC debut, he has since picked up four consecutive wins. The first three of those victories came via stoppage, and his most recent win was a close five-round unanimous decision victory against Arman Tsarukyan.

Dariush has slowly been on the climb at lightweight since 2018. While he has fought somewhat infrequently, with this fight being his first appearance in over a year, he has consistently won for years. He enters this weekend with an impressive seven-fight winning streak intact.

Dariush’s last appearance was in May 2021, when he beat Tony Ferguson on scorecards.

It is completely possible that the winner of this fight will be next in line for a title fight at lightweight.

Bout 10: Petr Yan (16-3) vs. Sean O’Malley (15-1) (Bantamweight)

Flashy bantamweight Sean O’Malley will receive a massive test on Saturday night, meeting Petr Yan for a three-round fight.

UFC has carefully built O’Malley up since he first joined the promotion in 2017. O’Malley has gained a significant following through these years, proving to be a flashy fighter and provocative character outside of the cage.

O’Malley has beaten seven of his nine UFC opponents, with five of those wins coming via finish. His last win came in late 2021 when he earned a quick finish victory over Raulian Paiva.

O’Malley’s last fight, a bout against Pedro Munhoz which much like this weekend was also considered a massive test for him, ended in a no-contest due to an eye poke in the second round.

Yan will be appearing in a non-title fight for the first time since 2019. He has been in the bantamweight title picture throughout recent years, gaining a regular and interim belt during this time.

Yan first became champion in July 2020, stopping Jose Aldo with strikes to earn the then-vacant belt. He controversially dropped the title in 2021 after landing an illegal knee to Aljamain Sterling in the fourth round of their title fight.

Yan gained an interim belt before his rematch against Sterling, putting together a five-round striking masterclass against Cory Sandhagen a year ago.

Yan exited the title picture in April this year after he lost to Sterling for the second time, in this instance with a split decision result.

Yan has the chance to return to the win column and stop one of UFC’s largest hype trains this weekend.

Bout 11: Aljamain Sterling (21-3) vs. TJ Dillashaw (17-4) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)

TJ Dillashaw will attempt to regain UFC Bantamweight Champion status this weekend when he faces current titleholder Aljamain Sterling.

Dillashaw has previously had two title runs in the UFC. His best run was from 2014 to 2016, defending his title twice before dropping it to Dominick Cruz.

Dillashaw’s second reign, which started in 2017, came to an end after he failed a drug test in 2019. Along with the title being stripped from him at the time, he was handed a two-year suspension from MMA.

Dillashaw made his return from suspension in July 2021, going five rounds against Cory Sandhagen for a split decision win. After that one win, the former champ now has a chance to reclaim the throne.

This weekend will be Sterling’s chance to further cement himself at the top of the division. He is coming off a two-fight rivalry against Petr Yan, gaining the belt off him due to disqualification in 2021 and subsequently beating him in a rematch this year as well.

Sterling’s first rivalry as champion is now in the books. This weekend he will have the opportunity to beat a highly valued name in the division and continue his reign as champion.

Bout 12: Charles Oliveira (33-8) vs. Islam Makhachev (22-1) (Vacant UFC Lightweight Championship)

The vacant UFC Lightweight Championship will be on the line this weekend when Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev fight in Saturday’s main event.

This weekend provides Oliveira the chance to pick back up what he already started. In 2021, Oliveira became the UFC Lightweight Champion with a second-round victory over Michael Chandler. He defended his belt once more later that year, overcoming experienced challenger Dustin Poirier.

But things changed dramatically for Oliveira this year. He missed weight for his UFC 274 fight against Justin Gaethje, weighing in half a pound over the championship limit at lightweight. While Oliveira went on to finish Gaethje within a round, the weight miss meant that he exited the weekend no longer being officially recognized as the champion.

Oliveira can regain the belt and kick off his second reign this weekend, but first, he will have to get past a tough opponent.

Makhachev has put together an astounding 10-fight winning streak, including two main event wins and a total of six finishes. Many have argued that his run is a quantity-over-quality campaign, as he lacks many tough tests. However, it is worth noting that many big matchups for him (notably Beneil Dariush and Rafael dos Anjos) fell through in recent months due to reasons out of his control. The lack of tests that Makhachev has faced is at least somewhat due to circumstances. His performances in the past have shown he is certainly a contender and a threat at lightweight, but this upcoming bout is still undoubtedly a large leap in competition for him.

This Saturday, Makhachev can prove doubters wrong with a successful outing. Oliveria, on the flip side, doesn’t have many doubters currently. He beat his battle with the scale this week, and many still say he is the top name in the division. A win for him this weekend would simply give him the official status of being the best, and gold around his waist.

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