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UFC 280 Preview

The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi for a big UFC 280 pay-per-view event. The stacked card is headlined by a lightweight title fight between former champion Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. The co-main event features another title fight as Aljamain Sterling defends his bantamweight crown against former champ TJ Dillashaw. With plenty of other great fights, including a big opportunity for fan-favorite Sean O’Malley, let’s take a closer look at all of the action.


UFC 280 Prelim Card 

Karol Rosa takes on Lina Lansberg in women's bantamweight action. The Swede is making her return after becoming a mother, and hopes to knock-off the Brazilian to secure a top-10 ranking. 

Exciting flyweight prospect Muhammad Mokaev clashes with Malcolm Gordon. Mokaev is a heavy favorite and should get the finish. 

Armen Petrosyan takes on AJ Dobson in a middleweight encounter. The slightly more experienced Petrosyan should take this one. 

Two Russian’s battle as Abubakar Nurmagomedov meets Gadzhi Omargadzhiev in a welterweight contest. This should be a close bout, but Nurmagomedov should edge it. 

Zubaira Tukhugov returns when he faces Lucas Almeida in a featherweight tilt. This should be a competitive encounter, but Tukhugov should end up on top. 

Volkan Oezdemir meets Nikita Krylov in a light heavyweight matchup. Both fighters are battling to make a run to the top of the division, and Oezdemir that is now training with Alexander Gustaffson in Sweden wants to avenge the recent loss for his teammate.  This could go either way, but oddsmakers are backing Krylov to get the victory. 

Makhmud Muradov battles Caio Borralho in a middleweight contest.  Muradov hasn’t competed since a 14-fight winning streak was snapped in his last bout.  Borralho is on the rise, but it is a big step up in competition to continue his winning streak. 

Belal Muhammad takes on Sean Brady in a pivotal welterweight contest. Both have high level wrestling, but the undefeated Brady should just about edge this one. 

UFC 280 Main Card 

Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) v Manon Fiorot (9-1) 

This bout will have future title challenger implications as Katlyn Chookagian opens up the main card against Manon Fiorot in a women's flyweight battle.

Chookagian is on an impressive four-fight winning streak and has established herself as the gatekeeper at 125 pounds. However, Fiorot is red-hot with a 9-fight unbeaten streak and should make it 10 against Chookagian to enter the title picture. 

Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) v Mateusz Gamrot (21-1, 1NC) 

A pivotal lightweight encounter that could determine the next title challenger takes place on the main card as Beneil Dariush faces Mateusz Gamrot. Dariush is on a seven-fight winning streak and is most recently coming off a unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson in May last year.

Gamrot, meanwhile, is on a four-fight winning streak and most recently outpointed Arman Tsarukyan in June. Both fighters are extremely well-rounded and this should be a very competitive affair. Dariush many times is the forgotten fighter in the division, and a win over Gamrot on such a high profile card could be the one to get him the shot he has long strived for. 

Petr Yan (16-3) v Sean O’Malley (15-1, 1NC) 

An exciting bantamweight encounter takes place as Petr Yan faces fan favorite Sean O’Malley. Yan is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to current champion Aljamain Sterling. O’Malley, meanwhile, last fought Pedro Munhoz to a no contest after an eye poke. Despite their last outings, both fighters are among the best in the world and Yan, especially, is expected to come out on top.  

O’Malley who has been cautious about his fight selection in his rise is going for it in this showdown.  The American’s striking always gives him a chance, however most see Yan is too well-rounded and experienced for him at this stage, which is a good opportunity for betters.  Why not put a play on “Sugar” and see if he can use his reach and striking to get the biggest win of his career and potential title shot. 

Aljamain Sterling (21-3) v TJ Dillashaw (18-4) 

The co-main event sees Aljamain Sterling look to defend his bantamweight title for the second time when he faces former champion TJ Dillashaw. Sterling most recently outpointed Petr Yan in their rematch to erase all, or at least some, doubts about their first fight. Overall, Sterling is undefeated since his knockout defeat to Marlon Moraes back in 2017.

Dillashaw, on the other hand, returned from his 2-year suspension last year when he just about edged Cory Sandhagen in a fight many felt the latter should have won. Dillashaw has been out since due to surgery but will now look to become a three-time champion.

This should be a close contest with Dillashaw having the edge in striking. However, Sterling has improved his striking leaps and bounds and poses a huge threat on the ground. Sterling should edge this and get the decision victory, but again I like a play on the underdog Dillashaw that has overcome long odds for upsets in his first title run.  I can see it happening again! 

Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1NC) v Islam Makhachev (22-1) 

One of the most exciting main events for some time takes place as former champion Charles Oliveira battles Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title. Oliveira was stripped of his title prior to his submission win over Justin Gaethje after just missing weight. However, many still regard him as the champion as he now holds an impressive 11-fight winning streak, having also beaten the likes of Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson.  

Despite all that, he is a betting underdog against Makhachev who is on a 10-fight winning streak after TKOing Bobby Green on short notice earlier this year. Despite not facing a top 5 opponent, many are confident in Makhachev who is seen as the next Khabib.

If the fight remains on the feet, Oliveira is more than likely to win. That said, it will likely go to the ground where it will be an interesting clash of BJJ vs. sambo.

It could go either way from there, but the odds are on Makhachev coming out on top and becoming the new champion.  I like the underdog to get the win.  “Do Bronx” has overcome adversary in most of his fights, and his heart and skill has enabled to keep winning, and I like the odds on it happening one more time. 






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About Ryan O’Leary  

Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008. 

V: 1.38.0 All rights reserved. August 2021