Tag Archives: UFC 280

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev – Main card predictions

The UFC returns with arguably the most stacked card of the year at UFC 280 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as Charles Oliveira puts his 11-fight win streak on the line against the man on a ten-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev.

In the co-main event we’ll see the bantamweight title on the line when Aljamain Sterling defends for the second time, taking on former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round bout.

We’ll also see Petr Yan take on Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush fight Mateusz Gamrot, Belal Muhammad scrap with Sean Brady and many, many more top bouts.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 62 we went 8/11 with three perfect picks to move to 741/1154 (64.56%) with 313 perfect picks (42.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we moved on to the rest of the prelims of the card and now make our picks for the main card.


Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) vs Manon Fiorot (9-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
*Chookagian missed weight by 1.5lbs, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout*

A potential title eliminator in the flyweight division opens the main card here. Chookagian has won five of six since losing her title show to Valentina Shevchenko, winning four decisions in a row to see off Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 255), Viviane Araujo (UFC 262), Jennifer Maia and Amanda Ribas. Fiorot on the other hand in undefeated since losing her pro debut, going 4-0 in the UFC with an impressive win over Maia most recently.

Chookagian’s style is the same no matter the opponent and very few people have been able to do anything about it. She has a great karate style which sees her kick from a distance and use great footwork to get in, land shots, and get back out. Her takedown defence isn’t the best though and good wrestlers have had their way with her in the past. Fiorot is a world class kickboxer with incredible kicking abilities, but her wrestling has also been a big surprise as she’s been able to dominate everyone she’s come up against in the UFC so far.

This seems like a really tough fight for Chookagian to keep her momentum going. Fiorot is more than skilled enough to go toe-to-toe in a kickboxing fight with her at range, an her takedown offence should see her able to get in close too if necessary. Her greater power makes her a finishing threat too, so I think “The Beast” can secure a career-highlight win here.
PICK – Manon Fiorot via Decision

Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) vs Mateusz Gamrot (21-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Absolute banger in the lightweight division up next. Dariush was all set for a title eliminator before picking up an injury a year ago, but he’s still sitting on a seven-fight win streak that saw him dominate Tony Ferguson most recently at UFC 262. Gamrot on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, KO’ing Scott Holtzman at UFC Vegas 23 before submitting Jeremy Stephens, KO’ing Diego Ferreira and then earning a super-close call against Arman Tsarukyan last time out.

Dariush is one of the best wrestlers and jiu-jitsu fighters in the lightweight division, probably only behind the two men in the main event in both areas. But his striking has significantly improved in recent years and he’s now a real threat on the feet too. Gamrot alternatively is a supreme striker on the feet with really good wrestling too, and has taken the division by storm recently. This is a huge step up in competition for him though, that is levelled out by how long Dariush has been out for.

“Gamer” will likely look to use his cardio as a weapon and step forward to force Dariush to engage with him, which could open up takedowns. But Dariush is experienced and I think he has the edge as the better wrestler so could welcome that. I expect a real chess match between these two, but Dariush should just edge it with more power on the feet and a better grappling game.
PICK – Beneil Dariush via Decision

Petr Yan (16-3) vs Sean O’Malley (15-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fight that is absolutely baffling, but must-watch television at the same time. Number one ranked Yan has lost two of his last three after losing his title to Aljamain Sterling via DQ at UFC 259, before winning the interim title against Cory Sandhagen via decision at UFC 267. He then lost the rematch via split decision to Sterling at UFC 273. O’Malley was on a three-fight win streak after KO’ing Thomas Almeida (UFC 260), Kris Moutinho (UFC 264) and Raulian Paiva (UFC 269) before a no contest against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 due to an accidental eye poke.

Yan is arguably the most well-rounded MMA fighter in the organisation pound-for-pound, with world class boxing and a sensational ground game with his wrestling too. O’Malley alternatively is one of the most entertaining fighters in the world with incredible striking and knockout power, as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that he doesn’t need to use much because he puts people out on the feet. I love O’Malley and do think he could be a future champion, but there are levels to this right now.

On the feet Yan is better, and while O’Malley absolutely has the speed and power to hurt him, he has to hit him to do that. Mix in the fact that Yan has got excellent wrestling and a stifling gas tank to march forward constantly, and enough power to hurt O’Malley himself, I think the ‘Suga Show’ takes a hit to his reputation in this one.
PICK – Petr Yan via Decision



Aljamain Sterling (21-3) vs TJ Dillashaw (18-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Big time bantamweight title fight up next. Sterling is on a seven-fight win streak with an 88-second submission win over Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 setting him up for his title fight wins over Yan. Dillashaw was stopped by Henry Cejudo before popping for injectable EPO and serving a two-year ban. He returned to beat Sandhagen controversially, but tore his ACL and fights for the first time in a 15 months.

Sterling is a lengthy grappler, with an excellent gas tank that he uses as a weapon but it’s his jiu-jitsu and control on the mat that set him apart from his foes. Dillashaw on the other hand is arguably the best 135-pounder of all-time with a perfectly rounded MMA game. His wrestling is excellent, he can grapple in submission situations but also has genuine KO power in his hands. This is a super fight.

Dillashaw has been out for a while, but he looked great against Sandhagen after two years out so I don’t see rust being an issue. I did think he lost that bout, but his ability to mix everything together is a problem for Sterling. On the feet he has a clear advantage and he’s arguably a better wrestler too. I think Sterling will want to grapple and control, but it’s nigh on impossible to do that to Dillashaw and I expect a new champion to be crowned in Abu Dhabi.
PICK – TJ Dillashaw via Knockout, Round 3

Charles Oliveira (33-8) vs Islam Makhachev (22-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Potentially the fight of the year in one of the most exciting divisions in the MMA world. Oliveira is on an 11-fight win streak including ten stoppages. People started taking notice when he submitted Kevin Lee, before he dominated Tony Ferguson at UFC 256. Since then he’s been on a killing streak, KO’ing Michael Chandler (UFC 262) and then submitting Dustin Poirier (UFC 269) and Justin Gaethje (UFC 274), although he missed weight in the latter bout and was stripped of the belt. Makhachev is on a ten-fight win streak, finishing Drew Dober (UFC 259), Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker (UFC 267) and Bobby Green in each of his last four fights.

Oliveira is the greatest submission artist in UFC history but has developed into one of the very best strikers in the company too, with his Muay-Thai style and power doing a lot of damage. Makhachev is the best wrestler in the division and potentially the company, with a suffocating style and solid submission game that comes from being in the Nurmagomedov camp for his entire career. This fight is absolutely wild and could go in any direction, it’s so hard to call.

With that said though, I see two potential outcomes. One is that Makhachev is able to use his wrestling early, control Oliveira on the ground and wear on him until getting a finish in the latter rounds with a dominant performance. The other is a wild start in which Oliveira marches forward just like he did against Chandler, Poirier and Gaethje and lands a huge shot to drop Makhachev and gets an early finish by taking his back or pounding him out. Both are as likely as the other, but after under-estimating Oliveira for so long I can’t do it anymore. “Do Bronx” is the best fighter Makhachev has ever fought by a distance and we don’t know if he can do it at this level. With the advantage on the feet and his amazing guard, I’ve got the Brazilian to get it done again.
PICK – Charles Oliveira via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns with arguably the most stacked card of the year at UFC 280 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as Charles Oliveira puts his 11-fight win streak on the line against the man on a ten-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev.

In the co-main event we’ll see the bantamweight title on the line when Aljamain Sterling defends for the second time, taking on former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round bout.

We’ll also see Petr Yan take on Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush fight Mateusz Gamrot, Belal Muhammad scrap with Sean Brady and many, many more top bouts.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 62 we went 8/11 with three perfect picks to move to 741/1154 (64.56%) with 313 perfect picks (42.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims of the card.


Zubaira Tukhugov (20-5-1) vs Lucas Almeida (14-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A sneaky contender for exciting fight of the night here. Tukhugov is 2-1 in his last three, earning a KO win over Kevin Aguilar back in February 2020 before a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu at UFC 253. He bounced back with a decision win over Ricardo Ramos at UFC 267 in his last bout. Almeida on the other hand is also 2-1 in his last three, losing on the Contender Series before returning to the regional scene and submitting Italo Trindadfe at Jungle Fight 103, before winning his UFC debut by KO’ing Mike Trizano in the third round last time out.

Tukhugov is a well-rounded fighter, with crisp counter-striking and razor sharp takedown abilities too. Almeida is a powerhouse who has finished all of his career wins, but he tends to be open for wars and leaves himself open to getting hit flush. Almeida has a real chance of outlasting Tukhugov after an initial early blitz and then taking over the fight with his power striking, but that blitz is really hard to overcome.

Tukhugov has the ability to push the pace early and mix his takedowns in to open up his striking, but Almeida is a very durable fighter. It’s likely to be a really wild ride while it lasts, but I think Almeida could use his extra power to land clean and get the finish as Tukhugov starts to tire in the second half of the fight.
PICK – Lucas Almeida via Knockout, Round 2

Volkan Oezdemir (18-6) vs Nikita Krylov (28-9) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big scrap between two light heavyweight fighters up next, with a very real possibility of someone going to sleep. Oezdemir snapped a two fight losing streak after being knocked out by Jiri Prochazka at UFC 251 and dropping a decision to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 267, when he claimed a decision over the tricky Paul Craig at UFC London in July. Krylov also dropped a decision to Ankalaev at UFC Vegas 20, and was submitted by Craig via triangle choke at UFC London in March, then bounced back at UFC London in July with a first-round KO over Alexander Gustafsson.

Oezdemir is a power puncher with great durability, but his overall game is lacking and he’s starting to get on in his career after an initially promising start saw him get to a title shot with Daniel Cormier. Krylov is incredibly well-rounded with 15 submission wins and some dynamite in his hands too, but he hasn’t really found a way to mix it all together and can often get caught.

Krylov will look to start fast and hard, knowing that Oezdemir can be caught and dropped. But if he goes too hard, Oezdemir is more than capable of putting his lights out too. Both guys will go for the kill, feeling they’re the better and powerful guy, but it’s hard to see Krylov not landing flush first and with his ability to get takedowns and submissions too, I back him to claim the finish with a choke after he drops him.
PICK – Nikita Krylov via Submission, Round 1



Makhmud Muradov (25-7) vs Caio Borralho (12-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Banger at middleweight up next. Muradov saw a 14 fight win streak, including a KO over Andrew Sanchez at UFC 257, snapped when Gerald Meerschaert tapped him out in August last year. Borralho on the other hand has claimed 11 wins in a row including previously mentioned decision wins over Omargadzhiev and Petrosyan in the UFC.

Muradov is a volume heavy striker with fantastic footwork and movement, while his power is not something to be overlooked with 17 wins by knockout in his career. His takedown defence is shoddy at best though, with Borralho a wizard on the ground who has great clinch work and solid combinations in close. Unless Muradov has improved his ability to get people off him when backing him towards the cage from his last bout, then he’s in trouble here.

Borralho is by far a better takedown artist than Meerschaert and he possesses far more of a threat on the feet too. As the fight goes on Borralho should be able to overwhelm him and once he gets it to the ground it’s a question of whether he goes for a choke or just pounds him out until the referee steps in.
PICK – Caio Borralho via Knockout, Round 3

Belal Muhammad (21-3) vs Sean Brady (15-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fight that could easily main event a fight night card any other week is the featured prelim of this one, such is the strength of the card. Muhammad has won seven of his last eight, defeating all of Lyman Good (UFC Vegas 3), Dhiego Lima (UFC 258), Demian Maia (UFC 263), Stephen Thompson and Vicente Luque by decision. The win streak was interrupted by a no-contest against Leon Edwards due to an accidental eye poke in round 2 (UFC Vegas 21). Brady is undefeated and 5-0 in the UFC, with a submission win over Christian Aguilera, submission over Jake Matthews (UFC 259) and Michael Chiesa most recently.

Muhammad is a good kickboxer, but his game has really excelled in recent years when he started wrestling more and using his top control to nullify opponents completely. He also has some of the best cardio in the division. Brady is a well-renowned grappler himself with excellent wrestling and submission skills, but his cardio has failed him later on in fights in the past against lesser opposition. This is a really tough fight to call.

I do feel as though Muhammad is being overlooked though. Brady is excellent but Muhammad has fought better guys and this is the biggest stage Brady has ever been on. Muhammad is also the more experienced fighter and is slightly bigger physically too. It should be a great slog, but I expect Muhammad to be able to mix things together that little bit more to get the judges to go in his favour and earn him a title eliminator in his next fight.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns with arguably the most stacked card of the year at UFC 280 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as Charles Oliveira puts his 11-fight win streak on the line against the man on a ten-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev.

In the co-main event we’ll see the bantamweight title on the line when Aljamain Sterling defends for the second time, taking on former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round bout.

We’ll also see Petr Yan take on Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush fight Mateusz Gamrot, Belal Muhammad scrap with Sean Brady and many, many more top bouts.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 62 we went 8/11 with three perfect picks to move to 741/1154 (64.56%) with 313 perfect picks (42.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Karol Rosa (15-4) vs Lina Lansberg (10-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A women’s bantamweight scrap between two ranked girls opens the card in Abu Dhabi. Rosa saw a six-fight win streak snapped last time out when she was beaten by Sara McMann back in March, while Lansberg has lost her last two to McMann and then Pannie Kianzad most recently back in April.

Rosa is a volume heavy striker, who uses her length and expert kickboxing abilities to outstrike her opponents while her takedown defence is more than decent. She’ll need it when she takes on Lansberg, who is a wrestle-heavy fighter with limited skills on the feet and not the greatest cardio in the world.

Lansberg will know that outwrestling Rosa is her best route to victory, but she’s nowhere near as good at wrestling as McMann was last time out and with little way of slowing the fight down she’s in trouble here. Rosa has the cardio and volume on the feet to land plenty over 15 minutes and so long as she avoids being held down on the mat for long periods of time, she should earn a pretty convincing decision win.
PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision

Muhammad Mokaev (8-0) vs Malcolm Gordon (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very exciting flyweight bout up next between one of Britain’s hottest prospects in the flyweight division and the veteran Gordon. Mokaev is 8-0 professionally, dominating his opponents in his first two UFC bouts to submit Cody Durden in 58 seconds before a big decision win over Charles Johnson at UFC London. Gordon has also won his last two in the UFC, earning a decision over Francisco Figueiredo in July 2021 before Denys Bondar was forced to verbally submit last time out due to an arm injury.

Mokaev is a decent striker on the feet, but it’s his wrestling and ground game where he really excels and he’ll look to do that once again here. Gordon on the other hand has got some really powerful hands, but he’s also a slick grappler on the mat too as his six submission wins show. Mokaev will no doubt look to take this to the mat, and will have to watch for quick transitions or any loose limbs being taken.

But despite an 8-0 professional record, Mokaev has an extensive unbeaten amateur record too so is far more experienced than he seems. He will be focused on controlling from top position with his wrestling and staying safe, but will be keen for a finish after what was an underwhelming win last time out. Expect him to start fast and go for the finish before settling for a dominant decision win.
PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Decision



Armen Petrosyan (7-2) vs AJ Dobson (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Middleweight fighters step up next as two prospects go toe-to-toe. Petrosyan was on a three-fight win streak before clashing with Caio Borralho back in July and being pipped on the scorecards, while Dobson lost his UFC debut to Jacob Malkoun back at UFC 271 in his last outing.

“Superman” is a striker by nature, with a heavy kicking attack and good pressure which has helped him earn six knockouts from his seven career dates to date. Dobson on the other hand is a powerhouse with great striking and a good wrestling pedigree too, with five of his six wins coming via stoppage. Both guys are early on in their careers, but the level of progression from both has been interesting.

Dobson’s improvement from the Contender Series to his debut was huge, despite the result, and he has the skillset to cause Petrosyan a lot of problems. His pressure and size should see him able to back Petrosyan against the cage, where he can mix in his striking and wrestling well to earn a hard-fought decision win.
PICK – AJ Dobson via Decision

Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3-1) vs Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A welterweight clash between two Russian studs up next. Nurmagomedov has gone 1-1-1 in his last three, losing his UFC debut in 2019 by submission to David Zawada before returning in March 2021 to earn a unanimous decision win over Jared Gooden. Omargadzhiev on the other hand was unbeaten heading into his UFC debut back in April, before dropping a technical decision to Caio Borralho.

Nurmagomedov is a really well-rounded fighter, but his surname tells you where he excels most – wrestling. He also has some really sharp counter-striking on the feet making him a nightmare for fighters looking to take the fight to him, but his cardio has let him down in the past. Omargadzhiev is moving down in weight from last time, which should help considering he struggled physically last time out. But he has a problem with his output and Nurmagomedov is likely to punish him because of it.

I expect that Khabib’s cousin will use his jabs and counters to land damage, and mix in his excellent wrestling skills to put a hurting on Omargadzhiev and claim a big win.
PICK – Abubakar Nurmagomedov via Decision