Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight killers Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Oct. 22, 2022) at UFC 280 inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Oliveira may technically be fighting to begin his second title reign, and he may be an underdog on the betting odds, but the champion has a name. Oliveira is still the top Lightweight in the world and rides one of the greatest win streaks in UFC history into battle. He’s taking on arguably his toughest challenge yet in enemy territory, but that’s no issue for a champion illuminated by God. Makhachev is favored for a reason. Following in Khabib’s foot steps, Makhachev has rarely lost a round while carving his way up the Lightweight ladder. He’s yet to face much adversity, simply overwhelming experienced foes with his Sambo skills.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 33-8 (1)
Key Wins: Dustin Poirier (UFC 269), Justin Gaethje (UFC 274), Michael Chandler (UFC 262), Tony Ferguson (UFC 256), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 170), David Teymur (UFC Fight Night 144), Myles Jury (UFC on FOX 17), Will Brooks (UFC 210)
Key Losses: Paul Felder (UFC 218), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 21), Frankie Edgar (UFC 162), Cub Swanson (UFC 152), Ricardo Lamas (UFC Fight Night 98)
Keys to Victory: Oliveira is the nastiest finisher in the sport right now. Give the Brazilian a small opportunity on the canvas or on the feet, and the fight will be over in seconds, even if he was hurt just moments prior!
Makhachev does his best wrestling along the fence. Time and time again, fighters try to rely on footwork to frustrate great wrestlers like Makhachev, only to wind up on the cage since it’s not their specialty. Oliveira has another option than adjust his whole game to his opponent — he can step to Makhachev and jam the ball off his foot into his gut.
The right snap kick will be very open opposite the Southpaw. If Oliveira can establish that distance weapon, it will help interrupt Makhachev’s takedown attempts. Plus, wrestlers like to be on the front foot, so generally Makhachev’s takedowns will be trickier to set up if Oliveira is forcing him back.
On the whole, attritional damage should be a goal for Oliveira. One big right hand or snatch of the neck could instantly end the fight, sure, but if that doesn’t happen early on, breaking down Makhachev’s legs and body will make a late finish more likely. After all, Oliveira has 25 minutes to make it happen.
Key Wins: Arman Tsarukyan (UFC Fight Night 149), Dan Hooker (UFC 267), Bobby Green (UFC Vegas 49), Drew Dober (UFC 259), Thiago Moises (UFC Vegas 31), Gleison Tibau (UFC 220)
Key Losses: Adriano Martins (UFC 192)
Keys to Victory: It’s no secret how Makhachev wins fights. His clinch wrestling is incredibly crafty, and once Makhachev drags opponents down, they simply don’t get back up. He’s a master on the canvas, able to frustrate and punish opponents until time runs up or a finish materializes.
The great thing about being such a dominant ground fighter is that the strategy never has to change. Obviously, Makhachev has to be careful — he doesn’t want to run into a knee or dive into a guillotine — but scoring top position and winning from there is still the end goal.
Entering in on the shot is perhaps the most precarious part of Makhachev’s plan. Assuming Oliveira comes at him aggressive, it’ll be a test of his striking chops. If Makhachev can parry a kick or time a slip well, that could be all he needs to get the wrestling going, but he’ll have to be very careful he doesn’t mistime his entrance.
The Lightweight division will once again have a champion.
Oliveira is gunning for greatest Lightweight of all time status, and his prime competition is Khabib Nurmagomedov. Obviously, Makhachev is not a one-to-one analogue for “The Eagle,” but it’s pretty damn close! Considering Oliveira also carved up most of Nurmagomedov’s toughest challengers, taking out his protégé would be quite the compelling argument. More important that theoretical GOAT debates is picking up the 155-pound title once again.
As for Makhachev, dethroning a dominant champion to cap off an 11-fight win streak is also one hell of a statement. Taking out Oliveira should also help separate him from Khabib’s shadow, as “Do Bronx” is arguably a higher peak than any of Nurmagomedov’s championship opponents.
Either way, Alexander Volkanovski awaits the victor.
At UFC 280, Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will go to war in the main event. Which man leaves the cage with the title?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 280 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPNEWS/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (also on ESPNEWS/ESPN+) at 12 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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