The main event of UFC 280 brought about the long awaited showdown between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev, with lightweight gold on the line.
To a certain extent, the match-up was a stand-in for Oliveira vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov, a fantasy fight for many MMA fans. With Khabib’s retirement in 2020, Oliveira subsequently emerged as the dominant force in the 155lb division.
“The Eagle” having repeatedly expressed his desire to remain retired, Oliveira vs. Makhachev was the closest fight fans would get to that dream match-up. And with both men having won over ten straight fights to enter the night, it was a formidable pairing in its own right.
All that, without even considering that Oliveira was technically trying to win back the title he had “lost” when he missed weight at UFC 274 earlier this year, the result of a backstage scale having reportedly been incorrectly calibrated.
Early on a UFC 280, Makhachev landed a left hand that appeared to stun Oliveira. “Do Bronx,” however, pressed forward, only for Makhachev to take him down. Oliveira then went to work off his back, looking to sink in a triangle. Makhachev pulled free, while Oliveira fired elbows off his back.
Makhachev then settled in and went to work inside the closed guard of Charles Oliveira. A scramble would soon ensue, with Oliveira back up, pressing Makhachev against the fence. He fired a knee, and they would go back down, Makhachev landing in mount. Oliveira quickly regained half-guard, then full guard, closing it up. Makhachev, however, was earning plenty of top time in a fight that, through the opening round, was mostly contested on the mat.
The final minute of the round saw Oliveira threaten with an upkick, and they headed to the second. There, Oliveira pressed forward, but the two clinched up. Oliveira looked for a takedown, but they went as far as a knee before springing back to the feet. That led to another clinch, along the fence this time, with Makhachev in control. Oliveira worked with his back to the fence, and fought off the first attempted takedown. They broke, moved back to center, and Oliveira fired a front kick to the body. The pair exchanged fire; Makhachev fired a combo, and later a head kick that “Do Bronx” easily blocked. Oliveira pressed forward, and fired a jump knee, but was knocked down in response, which allowed Makhachev to get on top! Islam locked up an arm-triangle choke, and moments later, Oliveira was tapping!
ISLAM MAKHACHEV IS THE UNDISPUTED LW CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! 🏆
[ @MakhachevMMA | #UFC280 ] pic.twitter.com/aJzHlS6fxF
— UFC (@ufc) October 22, 2022
A submission win over the submission King for Islam Makhachev, who claims the vacant title and turns the lightweight division on its head in the process! “This thing is so heavy,” Makhachev exclaimed after being awarded the belt. The new champ then dedicated the title win to the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, his former coach and father of Khabib.
A face-off with Alexander Volkanovski then ensued — and it appears the featherweight champ will be next in line to meet Makhachev.
Official Result: Islam Makhachev def. Charles Oliveira by submission (arm-triangle choke), Round 2, 3:16