ABU DHABI: The UFC is set to bring its world-famous octagon to Abu Dhabi next month with two belts on the line and a stacked card that is now being touted as one of the year’s biggest events.
The UFC 280 headline fight sees Charles Oliveira take on Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title, with the Brazilian looking to reclaim the belt at the Etihad Arena on Oct. 22.
Oliveira (33 wins, 8 losses, and 1 no contest) comes to Abu Dhabi on the back of an 11-fight win streak, and only lost the title when he missed weight ahead of his last fight against Justin Gaethje. A win that night ensured the title would remain vacant, as the Brazilian extended the UFC record for most finishes (19) and submissions (16).
His opponent Makhachev (22-1) will be a huge crowd favorite in Abu Dhabi. The Muslim fighter from Dagestan is part of former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s team, and goes into the fight having won his last 10 fights, over more than six years. Touted as the successor to Nurmagomedov, this will be his biggest test to date as he fights for a UFC title for the first time.
The bantamweight division will see its biggest night of the year in Abu Dhabi, with champion Aljamain Sterling putting his title on the line against seasoned veteran T.J. Dillashaw. Sterling (21-3) took the title from Petr Yan last year, and then defended against the Russian in April. A UFC fighter for the past eight years, and professional since 2011, he is unbeaten in his last seven bouts. Dillashaw (17-4) is a former two-time champion in the division and holds the records for most title fight wins, most overall wins, and most wins via knockout and technical knockout.
Staying in the division, another fight with huge repercussions is the aforementioned Yan against Sean O’Malley. Yan (16-3) is still ranked number one and will be looking to fight again for the title sooner rather than later. Standing in his way will be O’Malley. Currently ranked 13th in the division, he comes with a reputation for entertainment. The American (15-1-1NC) burst onto the scene in Dana White’s Contender Series and has since gone on to set records for his striking accuracy and significant strikes landed per minute in the bantamweight division.
Born to Palestinian parents, Belal Muhammad (21-3-1NC) will enjoy plenty of support in his bout against American Sean Brady. This is a pivotal clash in the welterweight division as Muhammad, unbeaten in his last eight fights, looks to push on from his current number five ranking. Brady, despite only having five UFC fights under his belt, is already ranked eighth in the 170 pounds class (77 kilograms) and is unbeaten in his 15-fight professional career.
There will be huge local interest when Beneil Dariush (21-1-4) enters the octagon to take on Mateusz Gamrot (21-1-1NC) in the lightweight division. The Iranian is on a seven-fight win streak and will be looking to build on his number six ranking.
Meanwhile in the women’s flyweight division, Manon Fiorot (9-1), a name familiar to UAE fight fans, will take on the biggest challenge of her career to date. The former UAE Warriors fighter sits seventh in the flyweight class and will take on number one ranked Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) in a contest which will have huge bearing at the top of the division.