When Khabib Nurmagomedov vacated the UFC’s lightweight championship and retired from mixed martial arts two years ago, the sport’s expectations turned to his longtime teammate and protégé, Islam Makhachev. And now his time has come.
Makhachev (22-1) will attempt to win the UFC’s 155-pound title on Saturday when he meets Charles Oliveira (33-8) in the main event of UFC 280 inside Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The pay-per-view airs at a special time of 2 p.m. ET.
The timing of the matchup probably couldn’t be any better. Makhachev was always expected to fight for the belt at some point, and he will now do so against a foe in Oliveira whom no one wants to bet against. Oliveira has battled through adversity in each of his three title defenses against Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje before earning a finish.
The Brazilian fighter has won 11 in a row, securing 10 finishes in the process. The only reason he is not technically the lightweight champion this week is that he missed weight by one-half pound ahead of his most recent win against Gaethje in May.
In addition to the main event, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (21-3) will defend his title against TJ Dillashaw (17-4), who surrendered it in 2019 after he tested positive for a banned substance. And fan favorite Sean O’Malley (15-1) will face the biggest test of his career in Petr Yan (16-3).
Follow along as Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the fights as they happen, or watch the card live on ESPN+ PPV.
Fight in progress: Men’s flyweight: Malcolm Gordon (14-5, 2-2 UFC, +750) vs. Muhammad Mokaev (8-0, 2-0 UFC, -1200)
Women’s bantamweight: Karol Rosa (16-4, 5-1 UFC) def. Lina Lansberg (10-7, 4-6 UFC) by majority decision
Recap to come.
Still to come:
Lightweight championship: Charles Oliveira (33-8 1 NC, 21-8 1 NC UFC, +160) vs. Islam Makhachev (22-1, 11-1 UFC, -190)
Men’s bantamweight championship: Aljamain Sterling (c) (21-3, 13-3 UFC, -165) vs. TJ Dillashaw (18-4, 13-4 UFC, +140)
Men’s bantamweight: Petr Yan (16-3, 8-2 UFC, -280) vs. Sean O’Malley (15-1 1 NC, 7-1 1 NC UFC, +230)
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush (21-4-1, 15-4-1 UFC, +170) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (21-1, 4-1 UFC, -200)
Women’s flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian (18-4, 11-4 UFC, +175) vs. Manon Fiorot (9-1, 4-0 UFC, -210)
Welterweight: Belal Muhammad (21-3 1 NC, 12-1 1 NC UFC, +120) vs. Sean Brady (15-0, 5-0 UFC, -140)
Middleweight: Makhmud Muradov (25-7,3-1 UFC, +170) vs. Caio Borralho (12-1, 2-0 UFC, -200)
Light heavyweight: Nikita Krylov (28-9, 9-7 UFC, -170) vs. Volkan Oezdemir (18-6, 6-5 UFC, +145)
Welterweight: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3-1, 1-1 UFC, -165) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1, 0-1 UFC, +140)
Middleweight: Armen Petrosyan (7-2, 1-1 UFC, -220) vs. AJ Dobson (6-1, 0-1 UFC, +180)
(c) = defending champion