UFC 280 went down yesterday (Sat., Oct. 22, 2022) inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, which saw Islam Makhachev submit Charles Oliveira in the second round to win the vacant Lightweight title (see it again here). In the co-main event, Aljamain Sterling stopped T.J. Dillashaw via strikes to retain his Bantamweight belt, while Sean O’Malley defeated Petr Yan via controversial split decision (recap here).
Biggest Winner: Islam Makhachev
Makhachev proved “The Eagle” right after the former 155-pound champion predicted that his protege would be the man to one day lead the division into the future. Makhachev worked Oliveira in all aspects and, in what many didn’t see coming, ultimately submitted the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with an arm-triangle choke in round two. Makhachev improved his win streak to 11 and it could be the start of a long reign if he continues to get better, which he showed he is doing last night by displaying some improved striking. That’s not exactly what the rest of the division wanted to see because now they have to worry about the new champion in all facets of the fight game. It was a huge win for Makhachev, for Dagestan and for Team Khabib.
Runner Up: Sean O’Malley
Many felt the split decision should have gone to Yan, but the cageside judges ultimately awarded “Suga” the nod, giving him his biggest win to date. That’s because not only is Yan a former champion, he is currently the No. 1 ranked fighter in the bantamweight division. That should silence the remaining people who doubted O’Malley after proclaiming he was being tossed softballs in order to improve his brand and record. O’Malley went toe-to-toe with one of the best strikers in the weight class and won several exchanges. So whether you thought he won or not, he showed a lot in the bout and he can now expect to crack the Top 5 and perhaps cash in on that championship promise that Dana White made.
Biggest Loser: T.J. Dillashaw
Dillashaw’s quest to reclaim the 135-pound title came to an abrupt halt after division champion, Aljamain Sterling, stopped the former title holder in the second round via vicious ground-and-pound. But, the fight almost came to an end in the first round after Dillashaw’s left shoulder popped out of place. His team was able to pop it in between rounds, but it ultimately popped out again, which obviously gave Sterling a bit more of an advantage. And like the smart fighter he is, he exploited Dillashaw’s injury and weakness to finally stop him via strikes to defend his title. Dillashaw dropped to 1-2 over his last three fights and hasn’t had a win streak in almost four years. He will have a tough road to climb on his was back to the big dance, and since the 135-pound division is absolutely loaded, “Viper” is going to have his work cut out for him for some time just to get back into contention.
For complete UFC 280 results and coverage click here.