Are you ready for the most anticipated MMA event in the calendar year? The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns with the biggest fight card of the entire year: UFC 280 Oliveira vs Makhachev. There has hardly ever been a better-stacked card with massive fights. Here are our predictions.
UFC 280 Full Card Predictions
Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs Gadzhi Omargadzhiev
Abubakar Nurmagomedov Preview
Abubakar is a versatile fighter with a good wrestling base. In the fight against Gooden, he showed that he was developing skills in the stand. He punched good combinations on his hands and connected kicks in time, punching his opponent's legs and body.
Nurmagomedov's main trump card is takedowns. If he wanted to take his opponent to the ground, he would do it. He continuously transfers until he catches at least in the opponent's guard.
Despite the progression, Abubakar's strike is far from ideal. In moments, he is very stagnant and acts too straightforwardly. A good striker will easily read his attack and make a powerful counter-lunge.
Nurmagomedov loves to take his opponents to the ground, but he doesn't show tenacious control on canvas. His control on the ground is often passive with light marking of punches. Sometimes Abubakar can even get stuck in the opponent's guard and for several minutes he will be without improving his position. According to the unified rules, the guard is the least effective position on the ground, and if the opponent actively works from the back, the judges will give preference to him.
Gadzhi Omargadzhiev Preview
Gadzhi is an all-rounder with a good wrestling base. In his amateur career and at the beginning of his career as a professional, Omargadzhiev often won due to a quick transfer to the ground and the subsequent painful hold. In the standing position, the fighter demonstrates knockout power, good technique, and high speed.
Omargadzhiev rushes headlong into the attack, forgetting to build a competent defense, which is why it is easy to interrupt him in the rack to a good striker. As the fight between Gadzhi and Borralho showed, excessive aggression interferes with the Russian's game plan. He tries to sweep away the opponent and if he stumbles upon a good defense, he continues to unsuccessfully attack and loses strength on this.
Nurmagomedov vs Omargadzhiev Prediction
The fact that the bookmaker put Abubakar in such a clear favorite raises questions in my mind. His passive fighting style, 2 early losses in the last 5 fights, and the fact that he has not fought in the middleweight division for 9 years make me question the expediency of making him a favorite at such low odds.
In my opinion, Gadzhi is not only more motivated, but he is also more aggressive than Abubakar. In the standing position, he will alternate hooks and overhands, locking Nurmagomedov at the net, due to which he will not only take the necessary space but also earn points on the judges' cards.
Volkan Oezdemir vs Nikita Krylov
Volkan Oezdemir Preview
Volkan prefers to fight in a standing position. 13 of 18 victories he won by knockouts in the 1st round, which indicates the presence of serious knockout power in his fists. If Volkan fails to quickly finish the opponent, he begins to punch powerful low kicks, thanks to which he dries out the legs of his opponents and deprives them of their mobility.
Volkan has regular problems with good wrestlers. He allows himself to be controlled and makes serious mistakes, which is why he often finds himself one step away from being defeated by a painful hold.
Nikita Krylov Preview
Nikita is a versatile fighter. In the stand, he is distinguished by excellent footwork, throwing out well-balanced combinations and aggressive combat. On the ground, a fighter can dominate opponents who do not have a wrestling or grappling training.
Krylov has no stamina. He begins to get very tired after 7.5 minutes of active work, because of which he loses concentration and makes mistakes. I note that despite the relatively good fight, Nikita cannot compete on equal terms with strong Jiu-Jitsuers. Trying to get to his feet, he makes mistakes, because of which it is easy to catch him on a painful hold.
I note that Nikita does not have a fighting IQ. Due to the fact that Krylov constantly makes mistakes, he performs unstably. For example, in a fight against the dangerous Jiu Jitsuers Paul Craig, Nikita, instead of dismantling the opponent in the standing position, climbed up to fight him and got caught in a triangle.
Oezdemir vs Krylov Prediction
I will not choose a winner and will bet that the fight will end quickly. On the one hand, Nikita can demolish Volkan due to an aggressive fight. Even from the guard, he will be able to inflict serious damage on the opponent, which will lead to the fact that Oezdemir will close in a passive defense and the fight will be stopped.
On the other hand, Krylov does not have a fighting IQ. He may start initiating unnecessary trades with a dangerous striker, run into a hard punch and end up knocked out. I note that Volkan can also turn on the berserk mode after a couple of missed hits. Trying to recoup, he goes into the wheelhouse with an open visor, because of which he can miss a tight serve and go to bed.
Makhmud Muradov vs Caio Borralho
Makhmud Muradov Preview
Makhmud is a basic kickboxer. He has good footwork, active pressing, floor work, dangerous kicks, and knockout power.
Muradov's Achilles' heel is wrestling and especially BJJ. He can hold his own against grapplers thanks to his good takedown defense and the physical power to get back to his feet from the ground. But against experienced jitters, the athlete makes mistakes, because of which he is taken to a painful hold.
Caio Borralho Preview
Caio is a versatile fighter. On the stand, he relies on Muay Thai skills, works well at close range, and throws dangerous kicks. In the clinch, the Brazilian relies on control and damage with elbows and knees. On the ground, the fighter tries to quickly take a dominant position and choke.
In the fight against Omargadzhiev, the Brazilian was very tired in the last five minutes. If such drawdowns in cardio become commonplace for Borralho, then he will not reach the top 5.
Muradov vs Borralho Prediction
I don't think the fight will last. Makhmud Muradov is notable for his disgusting skills on the ground and poor defense against transfers. Most likely, Borralho, after approaching, will hold a takedown and will exhaust the opponent on the ground during the 1st round.
In the 2nd five-minute period, Caio will also be able to transfer without any problems. By this point, Makhmud will be tired and start making mistakes. The Brazilian will take advantage of one of them, take a good position and either go to the submission hold or beat the Uzbek in the ground and pound.
At the same time, one cannot exclude the chance of a knockout from Makhmud. He has good kickboxing and enough power in his fists. If Caio is not careful and goes to approach the opponent, lowering his hands, then he can miss a powerful serve and go to a knockout.
Belal Muhammad vs Sean Brady
Belal Muhammad Preview
Belal is a 34-year-old American fighter. He made his UFC debut in July 2016 against Alan Juban, whom he lost via unanimous decision. In total, Belal had 16 fights in the strongest league in the world: 12 won, 3 lost, and 1 was declared invalid.
Belal last fought in April 2022. His opponent was Vincente Luque. Muhammad won by unanimous decision.
Belal is a basic wrestler and prefers to fight on the ground. It relies on control with a minimum of active actions. Muhammad shows good positional fighting and a sense of balance that makes it hard for his opponents to get back on their feet.
Despite the fact that Muhammad has seriously improved his striking technique, his skills in the stand are still far from ideal. Belal's attacks are monotonous and straightforward, making them easy to read and get out of the line of attack.
Sean Brady Preview
Sean is a 29-year-old fighter from the United States. His UFC debut took place in October 2019 in a duel against Kurt McGee, whom he defeated by unanimous decision. In February 2020, Brady built on his debut success with a decision win over Ismail Naurdiev.
In August 2020, Brady choked Christian Aguilera in the 2nd round, for which he received the award for the best performance of the evening, and in March 2021, he caught Jake Matthews by submission in the 3rd five-minute.
Brady last fought in November 2021. His opponent was Michael Chiesa. Brady won by unanimous decision.
Sean is a versatile BJJ black belt fighter. He has good striking technique. Brady prefers to work as the 2nd number in the rack. It occasionally explodes for a dangerous counterattack, after which it returns to medium or long range.
On the ground, he demonstrates tenacious control and a good sense of balance, thanks to which he regularly takes advantageous positions. But Brady doesn't have enough experience playing at a high level. It is not known how he will behave in the event of dangerous situations in the octagon.
Muhhamad vs Brady Prediction
And again, analyzing the fights for UFC 280, I don’t understand why the bookmakers rated the favorite and the underdog so much. In my opinion, Belal is a more experienced fighter with a better fighting base, who has been showing regular progress over the past 2.5 years.
Sean, when fighting with the 1st top opponent in his career, quickly got tired and could not be effective for 3 rounds. At the same time, it is important to remember that he sank on cardio in the USA, and the fight against Muhammad will take place in sultry Abu Dhabi. How will Brady acclimatize? The question remains open.
Belal is preparing for the fight under the leadership of Khabib Nurmagomedov, for whom Abu Dhabi is practically his native territory. Therefore, I am confident that the former lightweight champion will help Muhammad overcome the difficulties of acclimatization. Plus, Khabib will be in Belal's corner. Nurmagomedov's tactical tips will only help high-class wrestlers, because Khabib suggests decisions that he would make, with his level of struggle. And I believe that Belal Muhammad will be able to take full advantage of the advice of the former champion.
Beneil Dariush vs Mateusz Gamrot
Beneil Dariush Preview
Beneil is a versatile fighter. In the standing position, he prefers to fight as the second number, working on counterattacks. Good head movement, decent footwork and an innate sense of distance and timing help him in this. In addition, Dariush has knockout power.
Being a basic wrestler, Dariush causes a lot of trouble to opponents on the ground. He possesses tenacious control and demonstrates high skill in positional fighting.
Beneil has low takedown scoring. It is difficult for him to transfer the fight to the ground if he starts losing to his opponent in the standing position. In the clinch, he makes mistakes which makes it easy to take him to submission.
Mateusz Gamrot Preview
Gamrot is a basic wrestler, a former member of the Polish freestyle wrestling team. He excels in takedowns and controls opponents on the ground or in the clinch near the net.
But the Pole's striking technique is far from ideal. In the stance, he can stagnate and aim at the opponent's jaw for a long time. Because of this, fast and technical drummers will interrupt him in the rack. This played against him in the last battle. For his slowness, Gamrot paid with the fact that he openly missed whole combinations from his opponent.
Dariush vs Gamrot Prediction
The only factor that can play against Beneil is his downtime due to injury. But, judging by his social media posts and UFC reports, Dariush has recovered well and is ready to fight. Will Gamrot be able to beat the American in the standing position? I doubt. Dariush will charge hard on Mateusz like a standing target and will be able to quickly get out of the attack line due to good footwork.
The Pole will not be able to impose a fight either. Dariush defends well against transfers, and once on the ground, he will be able to sweep and find himself in a dominant position, from where he will score points and deal damage.
Petr Yan vs Sean O'Malley
Before we get to the main event of UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev, we have a fight that could easily be the main event of its own PPV event. Petr Yan and Sean O'Malley will determine the next contender for the title.
Petr Yan Preview
Petr Yan is a master of sports in boxing, intensively engaged in Muay Thai. Because of this, he is most dangerous in the stance. Peter does a lot of work, hitting precise and fast combinations. In addition, the champion works well in the clinch, where he delivers dangerous punches. I note that the Russian is distinguished by aggressive pressing, good stamina, and knockout power.
Yan has practically no flaws. The only thing to note is that he lacks footwork and mobility, because of which his defense suffers.
Sean O'Malley Preview
Sean is known for his eccentric stand work. He throws a lot of accurate punches at unpredictable angles. Because of this, most of his punches are unexpected for the opponent, and therefore 10 out of 15 victories the American got by knockouts. I note that in the stance, the fighter prefers to combine attacks on the floors.
O'Malley doesn't handle aggressive pressing well. Marlon Vera won precisely due to the fact that he did not want to work as number two and tried to win back the center of the octagon, driving Sean away with low kicks.
Yan vs O'Malley Prediction
I agree that Petr Yan is the favorite in this fight. Yan lost his second fight with Sterling because, trying to distribute cardio over 5 rounds, he spent the closest possible 1st five-minute, which the judges gave to Aljamain. The champion took the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and Jan won the 4th and 5th.
It is important to understand that the fight against O'Malley will be 3 rounds, which means that Peter will not need to distribute cardio for 25 minutes and he will actively turn on from the first minutes of the fight. Sean breaks down under pressure. He begins to retreat and passively defend himself. Trying to escape from aggression, the American rushes at the opponent almost with his eyes closed, trying to inflict as much damage as possible. But then he runs the risk of running into a retaliatory counterattack.