UFC 280 Preview: Charles Oliveira to prove why he is best Lightweight
The most eagerly anticipated UFC card of the year will finally bless our screens this weekend. This card is stacked beyond belief and many UFC fans are surprised we’ve made it this far without anyone dropping out. Just to get you excited for the fights, here is how the main card currently looks;
- Charles Oliveiera vs Islam Makhachev
- Aljamain Sterling vs T.J. Dillashaw
- Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley
- Beneil Dariush vs Mateusz Gamrot
- Katlyn Chookagian vs Manon Fiorot
Every single one of those fights has the potential to be an absolute banger and just to make the card even better for us, the main card is expected to start at around 19:00 on Saturday, a perfect treat for us European viewers.
This card has headlines written all over it, can Charles Oliveira prove himself as the greatest Lightweight of all time by beating Islam and dethroning Khabib? Is Aljamain Sterling really the king of the Bantamweights or is T.J. Dillashaw one of the best to do it? Is Sean O’Malley a legit Bantamweight contender or will Petr Yan derail the hype train? To say we’re excited is an understatement so we’ll get on with it. As usual, we’ll be previewing the top three fights on the card, starting us off with the main event…
The Russian has recently come under some criticism for his record. No one is saying they don’t want this title fight to happen, but Islam doesn’t really have any notable wins on paper, his best victory coming against Dan Hooker where he won via submission in the first round, Dan Hooker however is also not the fighter he used to be with four of his last five fights not going in his favour. Despite all of this Islam comes in as the 8/15 favourite at most online betting sites. Many people are expecting a very one-sided performance from Islam, something that the Russian is famous for. Similar to Khabib’s style of pure wrestling domination, Islam follows suit with his main game plan getting the fight to the ground and keeping them there, however, the ground is exactly where his opponent will want to be.
Charles Oliveira is clear of anyone when it comes to the submission game in the UFC. No one does it like him, if you give him even one opening he will take it and end the fight. I worry for Islam that spending too much time on the ground and not getting enough done will ultimately result in Charles Oliveira finding an opening and finishing this fight. The Brazilian has the most wins via submission in the UFC by quite a decent margin these days.
Most submission wins in the UFC
- Charles Oliveira: 16
- Jim Miller: 16
- Demian Maia: 11
- Royce Gracie: 10
- Nate Diaz: 10
- Gerald Meerschaert: 9
- Frank Mir: 8
For me, this is the value pick. Charles has proved he is handy on the feet but ultimately, his bread and butter is his jiu-jitsu. He is 6/4 to win this fight which I think is a good enough bet anyway but the real value is picking him to win via submission at 11/4, I don’t think you’ll ever get him at that price to win this way again, so for me, that’s the best option for this fight
Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev is a fight that fans have been asking for what seems like forever. The Brazilian has been on an absolute rampage in the UFC as of late and has really turned his career around, from being an average fighter to being in the conversation as one of the greatest fighters of all time. Earlier in the UFC days, Charles Oliveira started his career off win two wins, and then two losses, he’d then proceed to carry on that trend of winning and losing until eventually he won four in a row just to face Max Holloway and lose, which then spiralled into another string of losses. The Brazilian eventually reached 10 wins and eight losses before starting the run of a lifetime. No one could have predicted what Do Bronx would do next, putting all of his losses behind him, he is now boasting an 11-fight win streak and beating some of the best in the business.
In his last five fights, Charles Oliveira has taken out Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee. It’s clear as day that this version of Oliveira is the real deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly, but another fighter who shouldn’t be taken lightly is his opponent, Islam Makhachev. Islam has been regarded as the next Khabib by most of the MMA world as they have both come from the same gym and the man himself Khabib has actually been mentoring since the end of his MMA career. Makhachev has looked near-invincible in the Octagon boasting a record of 22-1-0 in his MMA career, but the question has never been how good he is, it’s more a question of how good his opponents have been.
Here we’ve got the current king of the Bantamweights, Sterling vs the former king Dillashaw. Two massively experienced fighters and some of the best the division has seen in the past few years. T.J. Dillashaw was destined for greatness in the UFC after beating Renan Barao in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, he had a big rise following that title win and went on to beat the best including two huge victories over Cody Garbrandt. Aljamain on the other hand had varied success in his rise up the UFC rankings suffering two early losses to Bryan Caraway and Assuncao and then losing again to Marlon Moraes. After his stunning knockout defeat to Moraes he went on a five-fight win-streak to earn a title shot against Petr Yan which finished via DQ, he then silenced the doubters by beating Petr Yan again in fairly dominant fashion.
Unfortunately for Dillashaw, age is not on his side anymore and at the age of 36 this could definitely be his last title shot if he doesn’t win today. Aljamain comes into this fight as the 4/7 favourite with most bookmakers and you’d have to agree with the odds all things considered, for those fancying an “upset” TJ is priced at 11/8 for the win. Dillashaw has shocked the world throughout his whole UFC career so it’d be ill-advised to write him off but one thing that you can be confident in saying, is this fight is going this distance.
Both of these fighters have been fighters that are expected to see the final bell with 35% of TJ’s victories being via decision and 48% of Sterling’s being via decision. The fight is 8/15 to go the distance so the bookies have wised up to both of their fighting styles, you will, however, get some decent value out of backing a certain fighter via decision and for me, that fighter has to be Sterling. Aljo proved that he can deal with some of the most dangerous in the division and his second performance against Petr Yan was spectacular. He completely mitigated his stand-up game and brought the fight down to his level which is on the ground.
I can see a similar thing happening in this fight. Dillashaw is an experienced wrestler but in the latter stages of his career, he has relied on his power to finish these fights in his favour. I think if Aljo can counter Petr Yan’s standup, he can certainly stop Dillashaw from fighting his kind of fight. Again going back to the Yan fight, Funk Master completely controlled this on the ground which ultimately earned him a decision victory, this fight against Dillashaw will be no different and expect a lot of this fight to be spent on the ground with Aljo dominating most positions. 11/8 for Sterling to win via decision is probably the best bet for this fight.
On paper, this looks like it could be one of the most one-sided fights on the UFC card. We have the former Bantamweight champion Petr Yan, a seasoned Russian mixed martial artist and a Master of Sport in Boxing, MMA, and a blue belt in BJJ. On the other hand we have Sean O'Malley, a 27-year-old BJJ Brown belt with no real MMA history behind him until he came on Dana White’s contender series. But for those that know about Sean O’Malley, they know he’s slick on the feet and his striking is absolutely up there with the best in the UFC.
Sean put the world on notice with his win against Khashakyan on DWC, a highlight reel walk-off knockout was exactly what the youngster needed to get his name out there. Since then he has suffered defeat only once which was due to a leg injury during his fight against Marlon Vera, other than that he has looked untouchable in the Octagon and combining his fast, clean striking with his size is proving to be a deadly combo. O’Malley said himself he was surprised that Petr accepted this fight, Sean is ranked at number 11 in the Bantamweight rankings and Petr is number 1. This fight really doesn’t make any sense for Yan but for Sugar Sean O’Malley, it’s the biggest fight of his career.
The bookmakers have this as a fairly one-sided fight with Petr Yan coming in as the 4/11 favourite and Sean as the 21/10 underdog. But, if there’s ever room for an upset on this card, this is the fight for it to happen.
As mentioned earlier, O’Malley is huge, he’s 5’11 as a Bantamweight and punches with the power of a middleweight. He has been sleeping guys ever since he made it in the UFC and he’ll be looking to do the same against Yan. Yan is standing at 5”7” tall and I’m expecting Sugar to really expose the reach difference between the two. The ranked number 11 fighter has a reach of 72” compared to the 67” reach of the number one contender. Sean’s game plan has to be keeping this on the feet and picking off the Russian with his fast boxing style. I really do think this is a closer fight than it may seem and Sean has continued to prove the doubters wrong. Sean O’Malley just to win is 21/10 which is enough value for me, you could get a little bit spicy and have him to win via KO but we’ll be playing it safe and just backing him to win at 21/10.
And there you have it! Those three selections combine to a 25/1 treble with William Hill if anyone is brave enough to back the multi. As always, best of luck to anyone that follows the bets and enjoys what should be one of the best UFC cards of all time.