UFC 280 Report: Islam Makhachev submits Charles Oliveira to become the UFC Lightweight Champion. Aljamain Sterling retains title
On Saturday afternoon, UFC 280 took place from the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The card was headlined by a bout for the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship, as former champion Charles Oliveira looked to reclaim his title against Islam Makhachev, who had won ten consecutive fights. Oliveira won the UFC Lightweight Championship in May of 2021, but was forced to vacate the title in in May of 2022 after missing weight for his fight against Justin Gaethje. Despite being stripped of his title, Oliveira stopped Gaethje in the first round, cementing his spot at the very top of the lightweight division. Both Makhachev and Oliveira are extremely high-level fighters, and this marked the first time in UFC history that two fighters on double digit promotional win streaks faced off. This card featured a second title bout as well, as UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling faced the divisions former champion, T.J. Dillashaw, who was looking to become the first fighter to hold the UFC Bantamweight Championship three times.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Paul Felder, and Daniel Cormier. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Islam Makhachev and Belal Muhammad. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley. The announced attendance for this event was 13,400.
- Karol Rosa def. Lina Lansberg by majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Malcom Gordon by armbar at 4:26 of Round 3
- Armen Petrosyan def. A.J. Dobson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Abubakar Nurmagomedov def. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Nikita Krylov def. Volkan Oezdemir by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Caio Borralho def. Sean Brady by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Belal Muhammad def. Sean Brady by TKO at 4:47 of Round 2
- Manon Fiorot def. Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Beneil Dariush def. Mateusz Gamrot by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sean O’Malley def. Petr Yan by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
- Aljamain Sterling def. T.J. Dillashaw by TKO at 3:44 of Round 2 to retain the UFC Bantamweight Championship
- Islam Makhachev def. Charles Oliveira by arm triangle at 3:16 of Round 2 to win the UFC Lightweight Championship
KAROL ROSA (15-4, 135) VS LINA LANSBERG (10-6, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Lansberg knocked Rosa down with a right hand in the opening minute, but Rosa quickly recovered and began working for a takedown against the cage. Lansberg defended the attempt and pressed Rosa up against the cage until Rosa was able to throw her down to the ground. Rosa controlled Lansberg on the ground until time expired in the round, but did not do a ton with the position. 10-9 Lansberg.
Rosa immediately took Lansberg back to the ground to begin the second round. Rosa dropped a number of short ground and pound strikes as she looked to improve her positioning, but she was unable to do so, and Lansberg pushed Rosa off of her. As Lansberg attempted to climb back to her feet, Rosa kneed her in the head, but Lansberg was still a grounded opponent, and the illegal strike resulted in a point deduction for Rosa. Rosa took Lansberg right back to the ground as the fight resumed, and she maintained this position until the final seconds of the round. 19-18 Lansberg, as a result of the point deduction.
The fighters battled in the clinch early in the third round. Rosa landed some good knees to the body here but was unable to take Lansberg back to the ground. The fighters separated momentarily, but Rosa threw an aggressive combination of strikes at Lansberg before closing the distance once more. Lansberg appeared to be slightly overwhelmed by this late pressure from Rosa, but remained on her feet, and wrapped Rosa back up in the clinch, where they remained until the final bell sounded. 28-28 on my scorecard.
WINNER: Karol Rosa by majority decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-28)
I gave Lansberg the edge in the first round for the early knockdown, but it’s entirely fair to score that round for Rosa as well, who controlled the vast majority of the next four minutes or so. Outside of that early knockdown, Lansberg didn’t have a ton to offer Rosa here, but kept the fight competitive, and was never in serious danger of being finished. Rosa is now 5-1 in the UFC, and each of those fights has gone the distance.
MUHAMMAD MOKAEV (8-0, 1 NC, 126) VS MALCOLM GORDON (14-5, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Gordon started the fight aggressively, but eventually, he got a bit too close to Mokaev, and Mokaev took him to the ground with ease. Gordon was able to return to his feet momentarily after a failed guillotine choke attempt from Mokaev, however, he was quickly brought back to the ground, where Mokaev began to work from Gordon’s guard. Gordon tried to catch Mokaev in a submission off of his back, but was unsuccessful, and Mokaev ended the round in top position.
Much like the first round, Gordon got a bit too aggressive, which allowed Mokaev to take him to the ground after Gordon closed the distance. Mokaev showcased some very high-level grappling, and Gordon was left without many opportunities to create offense off of his back. Mokaev attempted a triangle, and Gordon threw down ground and pound strikes to keep Mokaev from tightening the submission. Gordon was able to take Mokaev’s back in the final seconds of the round, but there was not enough time remaining for Gordon to do much with the position.
Gordon was able to take Mokaev to the ground roughly a minute into the final round, where he began to search for a rear-naked choke. Gordon slipped off of Mokaev’s back, and Mokaev returned to Gordon to the ground, where Mokaev began to work from half guard. Late in the round, Mokaev was able to sink in an armbar, and Gordon was forced to submit.
WINNER: Muhammad Mokaev by armbar at 4:26 of Round 3
Gordon certainly had his moments throughout this fight, but Mokaev controlled the vast majority of this bout, and even managed to secure the finish in the fight’s final minute. Mokaev was an astronomically large favorite going into this fight, and while his performance did not quite meet those expectations, he showcased some very high-level wrestling, and this armbar victory marked his second victory by way of submission since making his UFC debut earlier this year. Mokaev called out Brandon Royval in his post-fight interview.
ARMEN PETROSYAN (7-2, 186) VS A.J. DOBSON (6-1, 1 NC, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Dobson caught a kick and tripped Petrosyan to the ground early in the bout, but he allowed Petrosyan back to his feet, choosing to stand with him instead. Dobson found success with his hands, utilizing his reach advantage to great effect. A right hand from Petrosyan partially connected, garnering a reaction from Dobson. In the round’s final minute, Dobson connected with a heavy right hand, before taking Petrosyan down near the cage. Petrosyan picked himself up, and the fighters exchanged strikes in the clinch before time in the round expired. 10-9 Petrosyan.
Petrosyan was mixing his strikes up well, attacking the legs, body, and head with fluid combinations. A left hand from Dobson opened up a cut near the right eye of Petrosyan, but he was being caught repeatedly whenever he tried to pressure forward. Eventually Dobson opted to change levels, but Petrosyan defended the attempt and landed a combination of punches as Dobson returned to his feet. This was another close round, but I thought Petrosyan outlanded Dobson by a significant enough margin to take this round as well. 20-18 Petrosyan.
Petrosyan landed a very nice counter left hand before digging into the body with a kick in the opening minute of round three. Dobson responded with a short-left hook that got a reaction from Petrosyan, who wasted little time in firing back. Both fighters continued to find success on the feet throughout this final round, but Petrosyan was just a bit busier, and that was ultimately the difference maker in this fight. 30-27 Petrosyan.
WINNER: Armen Petrosyan by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Dobson was doing just as much damage as Petrosyan when he was landing (if not more), but the output just wasn’t there, and Petrosyan’s activity earned him every round. Petrosyan was wearing the effects of the battle worse than Dobson physically by the end of the bout, however he was clearly a step ahead of Dobson throughout these fifteen minutes, and the scorecards reflected the fashion in which the fight played out. Petrosyan is now 2-1 in the UFC following this win, and each of those three bouts have gone the distance.
ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV (16-3-1, 170.5) VS GADZHI OMARGADZHIEV (13-1, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Nurmagomedov shot for a takedown early, but Omargadzhiev threatened a guillotine choke to defend the attempt and landed a pair of knees to the head as Nurmagomedov picked himself back up. Eventually, Omargadzhiev decided to change levels, and he successfully took Nurmagomedov down, however, he chased after a guillotine choke, and gave up top position. Nurmagomedov was able to keep Omargadzhiev on the ground for the majority of the rounds remaining time, however, Omargadzhiev did manage to escape just before time expired. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov successfully took Omargadzhiev down early in the second round, but he landed an illegal knee to the head as Omargadzhiev picked himself up. A point was not deducted, and Nurmagomedov quickly recorded another takedown as the bout resumed. Omargadzhiev caught Nurmagomedov with a hard up-kick at one point, before attempting a triangle choke to no success. Omargadzhiev rolled for a kneebar late in the round, however, the positioning was a bit off, and Nurmagomedov easily avoided the submission attempt. 20-18 Nurmagomedov.
Omargadzhiev was getting tagged by Nurmagomedov early in the third round, and he was looking quite labored on the feet. Omargadzhiev connected with a right hand that prompted Nurmagomedov to shoot for a single leg, but Omargadzhiev defended the attempt, and the fighters exchanged heavy strikes moments later. Omargadzhiev chased after a single leg late in the round, but could not complete the takedown, and Nurmagomedov landed a solid hook before time expired. 30-27 Nurmagomedov.
WINNER: Abubakar Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Omargadzhiev looked very good in the opening minutes of the bout, but his cardio seemed to betray him, and Nurmagomedov pulled ahead as the fight progressed. There were some very high-level grappling exchanges throughout the bout, and I thought both fighters looked solid on the feet, however, the pace of the bout wore on both men, and there were certainly some sloppy exchanges in the third round. Nurmagomedov improved to 2-1 in the UFC following this win.
VOLKAN OEZDEMIR (18-6, 206) VS NIKITA KRYLOV (28-9, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Oezdemir landed a series of right hands in the opening minute, and he had Krylov hurt early. Krylov was forced to shoot for a takedown, but his attempt was defended by Oezdemir, who caught Krylov with some short-left hands as Krylov immediately shot for another takedown. The fight continued to play out on the feet, where Krylov seemed to have recovered. Oezdemir was getting a bit reckless, and Krylov fired back, hurting Oezdemir with a combination of strikes. Oezdemir was practically dropped against the cage, and Krylov was soon on Oezdemir’s back, where he was searing for a rear naked choke. Krylov was very close to finishing the fight from Oezdemir’s back, but Oezdemir escaped and landed some brutal ground and pound shots before the round ended. This was a wild round. 10-9 Krylov.
Krylov caught Oezdemir with a head kick in the opening seconds of round two, and the fighters traded shots in the pocket before they backed off, reset, and went right back to trading strikes. Krylov took Oezdemir back to the ground with four minutes to work, but could not keep him down, and Oezdemir returned to his feet with two and a half minutes to work. Oezdemir was looking fatigued, and Krylov landed a strong combination before taking Oezdemir right back to the ground. Krylov was able to control Oezdemir on the ground for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Krylov.
Krylov took Oezdemir right back to the ground to begin the final round. Krylov controlled Oezdemir on the ground for quite some time, but he was eventually stood up due to inactivity, and the fight resumed on the feet. Oezdemir looked absolutely exhausted, and Krylov’s pace was really wearing on Oezdemir here. Krylov took Oezdemir right back down and ended the fight in top position. 30-27 Krylov.
WINNER: Nikita Krylov by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
The opening round of this fight was wild. It looked as though Oezdemir was going to make quick work of Krylov, but Krylov was able to hold on, and nearly finished Oezdemir later in that same round. Oezdemir responded strongly right before time expired in the first round, but seemed fatigued by the start of round two, and from that point forward, the fight was all Krylov, who overwhelmed Oezdemir with his pace and takedowns. Krylov is now 4-4 since returning to the UFC in 2018.
MAKHMUD MURADOV (25-7, 185.5) VS CAIO BORRALHO (12-1, 1 NC, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Muradov connected with a nice jab early as Borralho attempted to close the distance. Borralho responded with a jab of his own that knocked Muradov off balance and soon secured a takedown. Borralho worked his way into top mount, but he lost his positioning after attempting a submission. Borralho caught Muradov with a hard-up kick, however, he failed to escape bottom position, and Muradov landed some strong ground and pound shots before time expired. 10-9 Borralho.
Muradov attempted a takedown roughly a minute into the second round, but a guillotine attempt from Borralho forced Muradov to give up top position. It did not take Muradov long to work his way back on top, however, and he spent the remainder of the round in top position. It was not the most entertaining round, but it was a strong one for Muradov. Muradov complained to the referee about an illegal strike after the round concluded, but the referee did not seem interested in hearing his claims out. 19-19.
Muradov took Borralho back to the ground in the third round, and once again, Borralho attempted to sink in a guillotine choke, which resulted in Borralho taking top position. Borralho was not terribly active from top position, but he was able to do just enough to keep the fighters from being stood up, and the fight ultimately went the distance. 29-28 Borralho.
WINNER: Caio Borralho by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
While this was not the most entertaining fight, Borralho displayed a great deal of creativity on the feet as well as on the ground, and he was able to secure the victory against a very game opponent in Makhmud Muradov. I thought that Muradov displayed some impressive grappling throughout this fight despite coming from a kickboxing background, but Borralho was clearly a level above Muradov in terms of creating offense for himself on the ground, and in the end, that activity is what decided this bout. Borralho is now 3-0 in the UFC following this win.
BELAL MUHAMMAD (21-3, 1 NC, 170) VS SEAN BRADY (15-0, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Muhammad immediately pressured forward, but Brady cut the cage well, keeping Muhammad from trapping him against the cage. At one point Brady was nearly able to trip Muhammad to the ground, but Muhammad was able to regain his balance, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. Muhammad defended a takedown attempt from Brady but ate a hard left hand just moments later. The fighters traded hard overhand rights, and it was tough to say who was landing the harder shots. This was a very close round, but I gave the slight edge to Muhammad.
The fight continued to play out on the feet in the second round. Muhammad was able to defend Brady’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground, and he seemed content to strike with Brady, even though Brady seemed to have a bit more power behind his punches. Brady landed a number of hard right hands, however, Muhammad’s short combinations were having an effect, as Brady was starting to bleed from his nose. Muhammad started digging into the body late in the round, which kept Brady stationary against the cage momentarily. In the round’s final minute Muhammad was able to wobble Brady, and he just went on the attack, landing numerous strikes as Brady attempted to recover against the cage. Muhammad gave him no room to recover, and eventually, referee Lukasz Bosacki stopped the fight due to unanswered strikes.
WINNER: Belal Muhammad by TKO at 4:47 of Round 2
Going into this bout, I think most people expected a clinch battle, as Muhammad and Brady are both strong wrestlers, and a fifteen-minute grind against the cage seemed the most likely result stylistically. However, when two strong grapplers face-off, we are often treated to a battle on the feet instead, and that was exactly what we got here, with Brady and Muhammad trading punches until Muhammad was able to put Brady away towards the end of the second round. It was a great performance from Muhammad, and the exact result he needed to cement his status as one of the division’s top contenders. In his post-fight interview, Muhammad called out Leon Edwards as well as Khamzat Chimaev, and it would not shock me if he got one of those fights next.
KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (18-4, 127.5) VS MANON FIOROT (9-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Chookagian missed weight by 1.5lbs and was fined a percentage of her purse.
Fiorot caught Chookagian with some hard shots in the opening seconds of the bout. Chookagian did not appear to be in any way shaken by Fiorot’s aggression, and she was content to strike with Fiorot throughout the first round. Chookagian was able to utilize her range to great effect, keeping Fiorot from landing many significant shots, all while slowly pulling ahead on the strike count. Chookagian landed a strong front kick up the middle at one point, and in the round’s final minute, she landed a well timed counter right hand as Fiorot was ducking her head in. 10-9 Chookagian.
Chookagian continued to find success on the feet in the second round, but Fiorot seemed to be much closer to Chookagian in terms of activity here. Fiorot began to find a home for some of her heavier strikes as the round progressed, but Chookagian fired back with short combinations and front kicks, which kept Fiorot at range. It was a very close round, and honestly, there was not much to separate the fighters, but Fiorot seemed to be packing a bit more into her punches, and I thought that was the difference-maker in round two. 19-19.
Fiorot began the final round with a solid right hand. Fiorot was not having the same difficulties she was in the first round in terms of finding her range, and seemed to be landing the better strikes on the feet. Fiorot had also pulled ahead in terms of activity, which was one of Chookagian’s biggest advantages in the opening round. With a minute remaining in the fight, Fiorot secured a takedown, and while Chookagian was quickly able to return to her feet, Chookagian was unable to create a fight-changing moment in the round’s final seconds. 29-28 Fiorot.
WINNER: Manon Fiorot by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Since the UFC introduced the flyweight division, Kaitlyn Chookagian has consistently been one of the top fighters in the division, and her last two losses had come to Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade, two of the greatest fighters in the history of WMMA. For Fiorot to get the win over Chookagian in just her fifth UFC bout is quite the feat, even if the fight itself was far from the most interesting bout. In her post-fight interview, Fiorot was questioned about the possibility of fighting Valentina Shevchenko next, but for the time being, Fiorot sounded as though she would like to test herself against more of the division’s top contenders, before challenging the champion.
BENEIL DARIUSH (21-4-1, 156) VS MATEUSZ GAMROT (21-1, 1 NC, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Dariush defended a takedown in the opening seconds of the bout. There was a very impressive prolonged scramble that resulted in the fighters making their way back to the feet. Gamrot was successful on his next takedown attempt, but Dariush went after a leg lock, which forced Gamrot to give up his position. Gamrot was able to avoid a clever trap on the ground from Dariush, as Dariush attempted to take top position from a trip attempt from Gamrot. Dariush escaped to his feet before the round reached its conclusion, and this was a very competitive five minutes. 10-9 Gamrot.
Dariush was throwing with a lot of power and continued to throw heavy kicks to the body despite being taken down after a kick was caught by Gamrot earlier in the bout. Dariush landed a hard left hand after a takedown attempt from Gamrot, which may have been the most significant strike of the fight to that point. Gamrot was eating some big knees to the body as well, as Dariush showcased strong takedown defense. This was a very good round for Dariush. 19-19.
Gamrot chased after a leg early in the final round, but nearly gave up his back in the process, and was partially tagged by a head kick on his way up. Gamrot seemed to be gaining confidence on the feet, but Dariush seemed to be the more comfortable striker, and his takedown defense continued to hold up, despite some deep attempts from Gamrot. At one point, Dariush knocked Gamrot down with a heavy left hand, but Gamrot quickly recovered. In the fight’s final minute, Dariush connected with a strong one-two, however, he tried to climb Gamrot’s back after an unsuccessful takedown attempt, and was nearly taken down in the process. Dariush was able to remain on his feet, however, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Dariush
WINNER: Beneil Dariush by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Beneil Dariush has always been a high-level fighter, but he has really emerged as one of the lightweight division’s top contenders in recent years, and this was another strong win for Dariush against a very talented opponent in Mateusz Gamrot. Dariush’s takedown defense throughout this fight was something to behold, and whenever Gamrot did get him down, Dariush was able to create scrambles to quickly escape to his feet. It was a very strong performance, and this marked Dariush’s eighth straight win in the talent-stacked lightweight division. Dariush is rapidly approaching a title shot, and I would say that one more win (against a notable opponent) should earn him a shot at UFC gold. A five-round fight against the winner of Dustin Poirier/Michael Chandler would be a very sensible next fight for Dariush.
PETR YAN (16-3, 136) VS SEAN O’MALLEY (15-1, 1 NC, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Yan landed an early leg kick, as he attempted to back O’Malley into the cage. O’Malley landed a straight left hand, and Yan responded with a solid kick to the body. O’Malley caught Yan with a left hand, before partially catching him with a front kick. Yan was really loading up on his strikes, which allowed O’Malley to evade the shots and respond with strong right hands. Yan changed levels and attempted to drag O’Malley to the ground, but O’Malley defended the attempt, and he began to pressure forward, continuing to look for that right hand. Yan landed an overhand left, and shot for another takedown moments later, this time successfully bringing O’Malley to the ground. O’Malley made it back to his feet but ate a couple more leg kicks before the end of the round. 10-9 Yan.
O’Malley hurt Yan with a left hand in the opening minute of round two, but Yan switched stances and rocked O’Malley with a huge hook just moments later. Yan tripped O’Malley to the ground where he landed some strong ground and pound strikes, but O’Malley was able to make it back to his feet, and the fighters separated with two and half minutes remaining in the round. Yan attacked the body with kicks, as O’Malley attempted to respond with heavy right hands before Yan opted to take O’Malley back to the ground. 20-18 Yan.
The fighters traded kicks to begin the final round, and O’Malley successfully defended a takedown attempt from Yan. O’Malley cut Yan open with a big knee to the head, and he started unloading on Yan with strikes in an attempt to get him out of there. Yan fired back, and he seemed to have O’Malley hurt with one of his counters, however, if O’Malley was hurt, he quickly recovered, and O’Malley landed a head kick that prompted Yan to shoot for a takedown. Yan got O’Malley down, and he landed some solid shots on the ground, but eventually, O’Malley was able to escape to his feet. O’Malley continued to time his counters well, and he was able to record another takedown after a hard hook found its target. O’Malley escaped but was tripped to the ground one last time, and Yan ended the fight in top position. 29-28 Yan.
WINNER: Sean O’Malley by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I was very surprised by the judge’s decision here, but this was a very close fight. Personally, I thought Yan took the first two rounds, and I thought that O’Malley took the third, but the first round was close enough that I could see the case that one might make for O’Malley edging it out. Regardless of scoring controversies, this was a far more competitive fight than most people were expecting when it was announced, and it was a very entertaining fifteen minutes. O’Malley proved that he can hang with the elite bantamweights, and he showcased some very strong takedown defense as well, despite Yan ultimately securing a number of them throughout the fight. It’s tough to say what the sensible next fight will be for O’Malley coming out of this one, but perhaps the two most intriguing options would be five-round rematches against either Yan or Marlon Vera, who is closing in on a title shot himself.
ALJAMAIN STERLING (21-3, 135) VS T.J. DILLASHAW (17-4, 135) – UFC BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
The fighters touched gloves to begin this title fight. Sterling caught a kick from Dillashaw and took the former champion down in the opening minute, and Dillashaw looked as though he was in immense pain. Sterling realized Dillashaw wasn’t defending himself properly, and he started throwing down ground and pound strikes before taking Dillashaw’s back. Sterling was landing strikes, and Dillashaw was just trying to do enough to keep the referee from stopping the fight. With a minute remaining in the round, Dillashaw made it back to his feet, but his left shoulder was clearly dislocated, and he wasn’t able to do much due to the injury. Dillashaw did make it out of the round, but this was a 10-8 round for Aljamain Sterling.
Dillashaw’s corner popped his shoulder back into place between rounds. Sterling was intelligently attacking the injured shoulder of Dillashaw, and Dillashaw was barely using the arm, limiting him both offensively as well as defensively. Sterling took Dillashaw down, and while Dillashaw was able to escape back to his feet, his shoulder popped right back out in the process, and it was clear by this point that Dillashaw would have nothing to offer Sterling in this fight. Sterling took Dillashaw back down, flattened him out, and threw down heavy ground and pound shots until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Aljamain Sterling by TKO at 3:44 of Round 2 to retain the UFC Bantamweight Championship
Firstly, this was a tremendous performance from Aljamain Sterling, who dominated every second of this fight, and regardless of the circumstances, he deserves credit for fighting with the necessary aggression to force a finish. With that being said, T.J. Dillashaw was in no shape to compete here, and I have to question why his team allowed him to fight here, as physically compromise as he was. The obvious answer is for financial reasons, but in his post-fight interview, Dillashaw stated that his shoulder popped out twenty times since April, and he even told referee Mark Goddard backstage that his shoulder was likely to pop out in the fight. At some point, its just negligence, and I feel strongly that this was a fight that should have never happened. Dillashaw apologized for holding up the division after the fight, and if he requires surgery, this could very well be a career-ender for the former champion, who will be 37 years old in February.
For Sterling, this marks eight consecutive wins, and this was actually his first KO/TKO victory since 2014 when he stopped Hugo Viana with strikes in the third round. This also marked Sterling’s second consecutive defense of the UFC Bantamweight Championship, which actually ties him with Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz for the most consecutive defenses of that particular title. In his post-fight interview, Sterling called out a number of fighters, including Henry Cejudo, Sean O’Malley, and Marlon Vera. If Cejudo is an option, I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s Sterling’s next opponent, but there is no shortage of options at bantamweight.
CHARLES OLIVEIRA (33-8, 1 NC, 154.5) VS ISLAM MAKHACHEV (22-1, 154.5) – UFC LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Makhachev caught Oliveira with a left hand early, and Oliveira practically pulled guard moments later, as Makhachev began to work from top position. Less than a minute into the fight, and Oliveira was already bleeding, and he attempted to catch Makhachev in a submission as Makhachev got to work from top position, landing short ground and pound strikes. Oliveira scrambled to his feet, and the fighters battled in the clinch against the cage, where Makhachev tripped Oliveira back down. Makhachev gave Oliveira no room to work, pressing him against the cage while landing numerous body shots until the round’s conclusion.
The fighters traded shots in the clinch in the opening minute of round two, before Makhachev backed Oliveira into the cage, where both fighters landed knees to the body. Makhachev was looking solid on the fight, and Oliveira was not fighting with the forward pressure in which he normally does. A right hook from Makhachev knocked Oliveira down, and Makhachev immediately followed him to the ground, where he locked in an arm triangle and forced Oliveira to submit.
WINNER: Islam Makhachev by arm triangle at 3:16 of Round 2 to win the UFC Lightweight Championship
This was a fantastic performance from Makhachev, who fought a near-perfect fight here. The threat of Makhachev’s wrestling kept Oliveira from fighting with the pressure in which he normally does, and as a result, Oliveira fought at Makhachev’s pace and range, where Makhachev eventually dropped him with the right hook that led to the finish. Makhachev was also confidant enough in his grappling ability to engage Oliveira on the ground, which is something that not many of Oliveira’s recent opponents have been willing to do, which provided Oliveira with an opportunity to recover in those fights in which he was hurt. After the fight, Makhachev called out UFC Featherweight Champion, Alexander Volkanovski, and it appears as though Volkanovski will challenge Makhachev for the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 284, which will take place in Perth, Australia. Volkanovski is currently the pound-for-pound king in the UFC, and a matchup against Makhachev will be about as exciting as it gets stylistically in this sport. Makhachev has now won eleven consecutive fights, and this put an end to Oliveira’s eleven fight win streak, which will be fondly looked back on as one of the most exciting runs in UFC history.