UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev is almost upon us! Charles Oliveira is a king without a crown. He was supposed to defend the title in May 2022 against Justin Gaethje, but did not make the championship weight and was stripped of the belt. As a result, he submitted Gaethje but was left without a title.
Islam Makhachev is the protégé of undefeated former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is on a 10-win streak and is currently the most legitimate contender for the title in the division. After Charles Oliveira. Here are our predictions for the main event of UFC 280.
UFC 280: Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev Prediction
Charles Oliveira Preview
Charles is a 33-year-old fighter from Brazil. His debut in the UFC took place in August 2010 in a duel against Daren Elkins, whom he took by submission in 41 seconds. Oliveira received his first defeat in his career in December of the same year in a duel against Jim Miller. The American successfully made a submission in the 1st round.
Charles has progressed throughout his career. His path is similar to the ascent of Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier. In 2010, Oliveira came in as a raw fighter with nothing but good BJJ. But in 12 years, he seriously improved his striking and grappling, changed divisions twice, became a contender for the title, and won the belt.
Initially, Oliveira fought in lightweight, but had 3 failed fights and went down to featherweight, where he showed average results. He easily won against mediocre fighters, but with an increase in the level of the opposition, he always lost. But even with such results, Charles was close to the fight for the title in this weight in 2015, but, having lost to Max Holloway, he flew out of the championship race.
In total, Charles had 30 fights in the UFC: 21 won, 8 lost, and 1 fight was declared invalid. Among the impressive opposition of Oliveira, I will highlight:
• Donald Cerrone – 1st round knockout
• Cub Swanson – KO, round 1
• Frankie Edgar – Lost by unanimous decision
• Max Holloway – TKO in the 1st round;
• Anthony Pettis – loss by choke in the 3rd round;
• Paul Felder – TKO, 2nd round
• David Teymur – victory by choke in the 2nd round;
• Jared Gordon – victory by knockout in the 1st round;
• Kevin Lee – victory by choke in the 3rd round;
• Tony Ferguson – win by unanimous decision;
• Michael Chandler – 2nd round knockout
• Dustin Poirier – win by choke in the 3rd round.
In May 2021, Charles became the top contender for the vacant title. He fought Michael Chandler for it. Oliveira made his first title defense against Dustin Poirier in December of that year. Despite the fact that the MMA community considered Dustin the champion without a belt, Oliveira defended the title.
Charles last fought in May 2022. His opponent was Justin Gaethje. Oliveira choked him in the 1st round.
Charles is a versatile fighter. Initially, it was positioned as a dangerous jitser. In fact, Oliveira is rightfully considered one of the best representatives of the BJJ in the lightweight division. He has a good sense of balance and is great at improving his position to find an opportunity to apply a painful hold.
There are no questions about Oliveira's stand either. The fighter does not have knockout power, but he compensates for its lack with a large tonnage of punches. He constantly throws out quick combinations of punches, kicks and elbows, causing damage to the opponent, because of which he can quickly run out of steam and fall from the accumulated damage and great fatigue.
Charles doesn't take a hit well. He can fall into a knockdown after the first missed heavy blow. In fights with heavy hitters Poirier and Chandler, this feature of Oliveira almost cost him the title. In the fight against Gaethje, Charles remained true to himself and also flew into a knockdown. There is a high probability that after a couple of fights he will fall from a crack.
Oliveira's cardio level is unknown. Despite the fact that he showed maximum efficiency in 15-minute fights, he never entered the championship rounds. It is not known whether his effectiveness and stamina will remain in the 4th and 5th five-minutes.
Islam Makhachev Preview
slam is a 31-year-old fighter from Russia. He made his UFC debut in 2015 against Leo Kunz, who was choked out in the 2nd round. Islam will not be able to repeat the success of his best friend and mentor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, because he does not have a perfect record. In total, Makhachev had 12 fights in the UFC: 11 won, 5 lost.
Of the opposition to Islam, only Arman Tsarukyan stands out. Their duel took place in April 2019. Then Makhachev was supposed to fight against Francisco Trinaldo, but the Brazilian withdrew from the fight. UFC matchmakers contacted Arman and offered him his debut on short notice. Tsarukyan agreed and forced a hard and close fight against Islam. In my opinion, if Arman went through a full camp, he could defeat Makhachev.
In 2020, Makhachev did not perform due to problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic. He returned in the spring of 2021 and immediately went on a streak of 4 early victories:
• Drew Dober – victory by choke in the 3rd round;
• Thiago Moises – victory by choke in the 4th round;
• Dan Hooker – victory by submission in the 1st round;
• Bobby Green – 1st round TKO.
The fight against Green was the last in Islam's career. It took place in February 2022.
Islam is a versatile fighter with an impressive wrestling base. His main trump cards are his ultimate takedown skills, tenacious control, and positional combat. When Makhachev takes an opponent to the ground, he usually dominates the fight until the end of the round.
In the stand, Makhachev shows creativity. In my opinion, Islam's punch is more creative than Khabib's. While Nurmagomedov only measured the distance with a jab and types, threatened with hooks, and threw fake overhands, Islam can attack from different angles, use his knees and elbows in time and quickly close the distance.
I believe that the main problem of Islam is that it has forgotten how to fight. The last time he really fought was against Arman Tsarukyan in 2019. Since then, he came across such opponents, whom he beat. There is a big difference between fighting and beating.
In the first case, the fighter expends more strength, holding an equal fight, and the speed of decision-making should be at an outrageous level, and any mistake can be worth winning the duel. In the second case, the fighter expends less energy because he is in control of the beating process and the decision speed can be a level lower, as the opponent is broken under pressure and makes chaotic attempts to get out of it, which works into the hands of the batter.
Before we get to the actual prediction, we have to say that this is perhaps the best card we have ever seen from the UFC and the entire full card of UFC 280 deserves a look.
Oliveira vs Makhachev Preview
I estimate the chances of the fighters as 50 to 50, which means I will make a choice in favor of the one with the highest odds. Oliveira has a good level of skills, and the experience, compared to Islam, is on a different level. From the start of his career in the UFC, Charles fought against dangerous tops, while Islam fought against mediocre fighters, most of whom were one-sided strikers.
The main difference between Oliveira and Islam's previous rivals is that he will not be afraid of Russian takedowns. This will help him press from the start of the fight without stopping, while the rest of Makhachev's opponents were afraid to go forward and miss the takedown.
Islam used to work on the ground with one-sided strikers and did not face Charles-level grapplers. He will have to spend more energy on controlling Oliveira and constantly defending himself from the Brazilian's attempts to throw a submission. This can lead to the fact that Makhachev will get tired much earlier, lose concentration and give the Brazilian advantageous positions.
Moreover, if Islam gets tired in the fight, he can try to fight in the stance, where Charles will seize the initiative. Makhachev does not have such a cannon punch as Poirier, Gaethje or Chandler. Therefore, Oliveira will work with impunity at medium and long distances, inserting his knees into the opponent’s body, thereby additionally squandering him on cardio, scoring points for aggression, and causing continuous damage.
But you should not consider Oliveira an unconditional favorite. Yes, he has his own trump cards that can help him in the battle against Islam. But Makhachev, along with Charles, is the most dangerous lightweight on the planet. Simply, I believe that the Russian was overexposed to a diet of fighters who do not know how to wrestle or grapple, and because of this, they are afraid to carry out protracted attacks in the stance in a duel against a dangerous wrestler. Well, you can not write off the factor of underestimation.