Last night (Sat., Oct. 22, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured forth to Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for UFC 280. Boasting a pair of title fights and several other potential title eliminator match ups, the pay-per-view (PPV) event was clearly one of the year’s best. Though it took some time for the event to heat up, things were rolling by the time the main card was underway, resulting in an ... odd night of action.
Let’s take a look at the best performances and techniques:
Makhachev Finds His Moments
Islam Makhachev lived up to the moment last night.
Charles Oliveira tried to immediately pressure the Sambo ace, but Makhachev was ready. From literally the first exchange, he was prepared to counter Oliveira. He landed big shots early, which resulted in some fascinating ground exchanges. Oliveira’s guard work was fun, but Makhachev never looked to be in terrible danger while controlling top position.
“Do Bronx” had his best moments early in the second. He successfully defended some deep takedown attempts, answering with hard knees and elbows. However, it was clear that Oliveira wasn’t comfortable on the feet. He tried to pursue, to make a big connection happen. But, he was consistently walking into counters, and pressure alone was not enough to shake Makhachev.
Eventually, Oliveira couldn’t keep walking through shots. A counter right hook put him down, and Makhachev jumped on his neck. The Dagestani’s top pressure looked incredible, and he secured a quick tap and the title alike. It was a near perfect performance from Makhachev, who simply looked more comfortable inside the Octagon.
This Shit Sucked
Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw sucked and shouldn’t have happened.
Dillashaw entered the fight with a f—ked shoulder, and it immediately popped out. Dillashaw started compromised, and it only grew worse. Sterling is too damn good to let an opponent off the hook, and the beating went on for an uncomfortably long time until the referee intervened. Someone — UFC, a coach, his wife, a commission — should have called this off.
The unfortunate part is that I completely understand why Dillashaw put himself in a nearly impossible position. Realistically, if Dillashaw calls off this fight to undergo surgery, he’s not going to get a title shot on his return. He turns 37 in February and is already older for Bantamweight. If he backs out on this title shot, Dillashaw has to fight some other killer like Petr Yan in six months instead, and his odds of getting a third title shot drop off a cliff.
The fight business is brutal, and there’s little margin for an older athlete trying to make his last run.
Yan Wins, Then Loses
Petr Yan deserved the nod last night. He landed the biggest shots of the night even if O’Malley took them well, and he scored half-a-dozen takedowns too. O’Malley fought really well and proved himself (more on that HERE!), but Yan should’ve gotten the win.
“No Mercy” has faced some tough luck. The disqualification to Aljamain Sterling was obviously his fault, but that’s a fight he should’ve won. Then, the decision in the rematch was extremely close, and this one obviously deserved to go his directions.
Officiating can make or break careers, and it’s definitely a problem for one of the sport’s best.
The Scrambles That Were Promised
As is well-known by MMA fans and seen in Belal Muhammad vs. Sean Brady, the most common outcome in a fight between two grapplers is often a striking battle. Fortunately, Beneil Dariush vs. Mateusz Gamrot did not entirely fall into that category, as the first round featured some of the years best scrambles. Both men dove underneath, inverting frequently to prevent any type of established position.
Back-and-forth the duo went, demonstrating top-notch scrambling skills on both sides.
By the second, however, Dariush had somewhat figured his opponent out. His left kick was landing more consistently, a punishing source of constant damage. Meanwhile, Gamrot remained too committed to shooting from open distance, and Dariush had his timing. As a result, Dariush was able to frequently deny shots and counter with hard knees often.
Still, the fight was up in the air with five minutes remaining. Dariush was edging it out, but he secured the victory with an overhand that sounded more like a homerun swing than punch. Credit to “Gamer” for somehow bouncing back up, but Dariush’s eighth straight win was already locked in.
He’s earned a title shot.
Remember The Title Shot
Muhammad has earned an opportunity at 170-pound gold.
That’s not sexy matchmaking. It will have to wait until after the Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman trilogy, and it won’t sell as much as Khamzat Chimaev or Colby Covington receiving such an opportunity. Unlike those men, however, Muhammad is making weight and actively fighting at 170 lbs.
The 34-year-old veteran is unbeaten in his last nine. His last four wins came against Top 10 opposition. and turning away Sean Brady — a very dangerous fighter ranked beneath him — is so admirable. Shouldn’t Muhammad be rewarded for taking a risk when so many at 170 lbs. guard their ranking so steadily?
- Muhammad Mokaev defeats Malcolm Gordon via third-round armbar: Mokaev is one of the sport’s top prospects, a highly decorated amateur champion with excellent wrestling credentials. As a result, the 22-year-old athlete faces major expectations. Perhaps that’s why the general fan reaction online seemed to be unimpressed with his performance, but he was clearly winning before falling off back mount into an armbar. Holding down Flyweights is rarely an easy task, but Mokaev is quickly building a reputation as one of the few who is capable.
For complete UFC 280: “Oliveira vs. Makhachev” results and play-by-play, click HERE!