I guess the Sports Books were really impressed by Islam Makhachev’s technical knockout victory over unranked late-replacement Bobby Green back in February, despite the fact that former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira is coming off three straight wins (and three straight finishes) over Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, and Michael Chandler, three of the Top 5 fighters at 155 pounds.
Makhachev doesn’t hold a win over anyone currently ranked in the division Top 10.
The promotion recently announced Oliveira vs. Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title as part of the UFC 280 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi. The bookies over at BetOnline.ag opened “Do Bronx” as the +215 (43/20) underdog against -255 (20/51) for the betting favorite Makhachev, though it wouldn't surprise me to see early money come pouring in for the Brazilian over the next few days.
Oliveira was recently named “Best MMA Fighter” at the 2022 ESPY awards.
An argument has been made that Oliveira is still the champion after losing the belt on the scale ahead of UFC 274 back in May, particularly in light of this revelation. But any controversy surrounding “Do Bronx” and his place as rightful champion will be moot if Makhachev captures the crown in Abu Dhabi. The winner is expected to make his first title defense in a “champ champ” fight opposite Alex Volkanovski.