Islam Makhachev captured the undisputed UFC lightweight title with a second-round submission of former champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.
Makhachev and Oliveira faced off in the main event of the pay-per-view event at Etihad Arena on Saturday, with the combat sambo specialist from Dagestan finishing Oliveira with an arm-triangle choke to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, friend and former teammate, Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in his corner for his championship win.
After the pair opened up with strikes, Oliveira pulled guard as Makhachev looked to close in for the takedown. With the Russian on top looking to posture up, Oliveira constantly threatened with submissions off his back, before escaping and returning to his feet. The Brazilian wasn’t upright for long, however, as a beautiful judo throw sent the champion crashing back to the canvas.
The second round saw the pair tussle for supremacy against the cage, but when the action returned to the open in the centre of the cage, the fight entered the sequence that finished with Makhachev securing the fight-ending submission.
Oliveira attempted a jumping switch kick to the face that partly connected, but a big counter punch from Makhachev stunned the Brazilian. In the ensuing scramble, Makhachev took Oliveira to the mat and swiftly locked up an arm-triangle choke that prompted a quick tap from the BJJ black belt.
After his title-winning victory, Makhachev paid tribute to his former coach, the departed Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, as he presented the belt to Abdumanap’s son, Khabib. Khabib then stated that Makhachev was the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and stated that the team’s plan was to face current P4P No. 1, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, in his first title defence in Australia early next year. Volkanovski, who was sat cageside for the event, hopped into the octagon to accept the fight and shake the new champion’s hand.
The co-main event saw Aljamain Sterling retain his bantamweight title in dominant fashion as he defeated an injury-plagued T.J. Dillashaw via second-round TKO.
After Sterling scored a big takedown early in the first round, it quickly became apparent something was wrong with the challenger, who had dislocated his shoulder during the takedown. With Sterling unaware of his opponent’s injury, he continued to dominate from top position as he chased a submission finish. But Dillashaw did a remarkable job to avoid Sterling’s rear-naked choke.
Dillashaw’s corner managed to reset his shoulder for the start of Round 2, but it popped out again early in the round and, with referee Marc Goddard watching closely, Sterling took the former champion to the mat and hammered him with ground strikes to force the TKO stoppage.
After the fight, Dillashaw issued an apology for holding up the bantamweight division as he revealed that shoulder issued had dogged his entire training camp ahead of the bout.
In the night’s featured non-title bout at UFC 280, Sean O’Malley picked up the biggest win of his career, but his split-decision victory over former champion Petr Yan was disputed by a host of fighters online, as well as a pro-Yan crowd inside the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
O’Malley and Yan battled all the way to the scorecards in a hugely entertaining battle that proved that “The Suga Show” certainly belonged in the upper echelon of the UFC’s 135-pound bantamweight division. But, when the scorecards were read, even O’Malley himself appeared a little surprised that he had gotten the nod.
Two judges, David Lethaby and Ben Cartlidge, both gave O’Malley the first round, while all three – including the third judge, Vito Paolillo – gave Yan Round 2. It meant that the third round would be crucial and, despite a five minutes that saw both men enjoy significant successes, all three judges gave it to O’Malley, which meant the former Contender Series graduate earned the split decision win with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
His victory means O’Malley right at the sharp end of the UFC’s bantamweight division, with a potential title shot at reigning champion Aljamain Sterling looming for the 27-year-old American.
The lightweight clash between Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot served up a high-paced back and forth battle with scrambles aplenty as the Polish former two-weight KSW champion looked to push the pace on Dariush. But the former no-gi BJJ world champion appeared to have answers to all the questions Gamrot asked of him during an action-packed three rounder as he ran out the unanimous decision winner with scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
The opening main card bout saw France’s Manon Fiorot continue her rise up the women’s flyweight rankings with a unanimous decision victory over No. 1 contender and former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian.
Fiorot outstruck Chookagian through the three-round matchup and grew into the contest as she appeared to get stronger as the bout headed into the later rounds. Her performance earned her scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards to put her at the front of the queue to face flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko.
Preliminary card highlights
In the night’s featured preliminary card bout, Belal Muhammad underscored his credentials with a crowd-pleasing second-round finish of the previously undefeated Sean Brady.
After a first round that saw Muhammad come off arguably second best to a strong-starting Brady, “Remember The Name” came back with a vengeance in the second round as he found his range with his strikes, then turned up the power to finish Brady and in the process hand him his first career loss.
After his win, Muhammad declared that he will capture the welterweight title in 2023, and called for bouts with current champ Leon Edwards and fellow contender Khamzat Chimaev, even hinting that he’d take on “The Wolf” if he missed weight again.
But, after a win like that, one thing is for sure, Muhammad is firmly in the thick of the title conversation at 170 pounds.
The only other finish registered on the prelims came from the UK’s Muhammad Mokaev, who scored a third-round armbar finish of Malcolm Gordon.
Mokaev dominated the opening round, but had to be on his guard late in Round 2 as Gordon attempted to lock up a rear-naked choke to finish the Dagestan-born Brit.
But Mokaev stayed calm, avoided the finish, then found a submission of his own in the final minute of the fight as he locked up an armbar to force the tap with 34 seconds remaining and extend his undefeated record across both amateur and professional bouts.
UFC 280: Official Results
- Islam Makhachev def. Charles Oliveira via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:16 – for vacant lightweight title
- Aljamain Sterling def. T.J. Dillashaw via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 2, 3:44– for bantamweight title
- Sean O’Malley def. Petr Yan via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Beneil Dariush def. Mateusz Gamrot via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Manon Fiorot def. Katlyn Chookagian via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Belal Muhammad def. Sean Brady via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:47
- Caio Borralho def. Makhmud Muradov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 39-28)
- Nikita Krylov def. Volkan Oezdemir via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Abubakar Nurmagomedov def. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Armen Petrosyan def. AJ Dobson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Malcolm Gordon via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 4:26
- Karol Rosa def. Lina Lansberg via majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)