A new lightweight champ crowned; Bantamweight champ remains

Islam Makachev submits Charles Olivera for the lightweight title; Aljamain Sterling defends his title against TJ Dillashaw, and Sean O’Malley wins the decision in an upset against Petr Yan

Nathan Montoya, Editor of News

On Saturday, October 22nd, UFC 280 went down in the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, located in the United Arab Emirates. In this card, the lightweight division belt, and the bantamweight division belt were at stake. Charles Olivera and Islam Makachev were fighting for the vacant lightweight title, and after a one-sided fight, Makachev ended up the victor and new lightweight champion. Many expected Olivera to win, as he was not only the former champ, but also because he had his last 3 wins against well-known names of the sport: Justin Gathje, Dustin Poirer, and Michael Chandler. The common theory was that Olivera’s standup style as well as his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) abilities-  would be enough to overwhelm Makachev, however, this was not the case. Instead, the title bout ended in Islam’s favor, as Islam dominated Olivera. Makachev controlled the fight throughout the first round, landing a strike to rattle Olivera. In the second round, Makachev knocked down Olivera with his right hand before eventually locking an arm-triangle choke that forced a tap. This fight came as a surprise to many since Islam’s opponents were not nearly as well known as Olivera had been. Because of this, many doubted Makachev could show out and win the bout. After Makachev was crowned as the champion, he issued a challenge to the current featherweight champion and number 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Alexander Volkanoski to a title fight for the lightweight title.  

Prior to this fight, Aljamain Sterling looked to defend his bantamweight title against the former champion TJ Dillashaw; however, things didn’t turn out the way many expected them to. During the first round, Dillashaw’s left shoulder was dislocated. Then in between rounds was popped back into place but then was once again dislocated. This put the former champion in survival mode, as he couldn’t properly fight back, defend takedowns, or go for any submissions. Sterling eventually defended his title by winning the fight via TKO (technical knock-out) in the second round. Dillashaw later revealed in an interview that his shoulder had popped out multiple times during his training camp and that he would soon undergo surgery. The way this fight turned out disappointed many fans, and seemingly added to Sterling’s strange luck for his fights, as he became champion by disqualification, and then just beat someone with a physical disadvantage. 

In another bantamweight division match, Sean O’Malley shocked many in his fight with Petr Yan, as he managed to win via split decision and earned his spot as the #1 ranked contender in the bantamweight division. This fight was very competitive, with both fighters going back and forth, landing big shots against the other. Yan controlled O’Malley on the ground, landing 6 takedowns with over 5 minutes of ground control. However, on their feet, O’Malley landed more significant strikes, landing 84, while Yan only landed 58, which would cause O’Malley to win the decision in the end. This proved that O’Malley can go toe to toe with the best in the division, and even have a chance at the title. Yan, on the other hand, is in a tougher spot; he didn’t drop far down the rankings, only going down 1 spot to be the #2 ranked contender, but he is in a rut, having failed to win a fight since 2020 when he defeated Jose Aldo for the then vacant bantamweight title.

UFC 280 turned out to be an event for the underdogs, with Islam Makachev overcoming the odds and beating a former champion, and one of the top lightweight contenders, Charles Olivera. Likewise, Sean O’Malley defeated an opponent who has remained at the top of the bantamweight division in Petr Yan.