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UFC 280 Preview

Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev face off at the UFC 280 ceremonial weigh-ins. Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC 280 Preview and Predictions

UFC 280 Preview
Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev face off at the UFC 280 ceremonial weigh-ins. Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC 280 Preview and Predictions

It feels like forever since UFC 279 back in September, but UFC 280 was well worth the wait. This card plays host to a massive tilt between a former champ and a rising superstar, a feud coming to a head in the Bantamweight division, and one of the most intriguing Lightweight fights in years at the main event. For this preview, I will be joined by James Herrick, Jerry Walker, and Chris Chick. Without further ado, we bring you our UFC 280 preview!


No. 1 Katlyn Chookagian vs. No. 6 Manon Fiorot (Women’s Flyweight)

Garrett: Kicking off our UFC 280 preview is a great fight in the Women’s Flyweight division between former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian and rising star Manon Fiorot. Winning five of her last 6 since her loss to current champion Valentina Schevchenko back in February of 2020, a win over a great prospect like Fiorot would do wonders for the career of “Blonde Fighter”. She has great range to keep her opponent at bay. Typically, her striking is a clear advantage. However, the striking of Fiorot is not to be slept on. I think the swing here is the relentless pressure that Fiorot applies in her fights. I believe she will look to get in the face of Chookagian and stay in the pocket all night. This game plan will lead her to a win via unanimous decision.

James: Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot will open the UFC 280 main card. This bout will greatly affect the UFC women’s strawweight title picture and the winner may get a title shot. At the moment, Chookagian is one of the best fighters in the division that is not named Valentina Shevchenko. In her fights, she utilizes her length to stay on the outside. From there, she lands straight punches and a variety of kicks. Meanwhile, Fiorot has great striking in her own right. She has a great set of skills that includes accurate hooks, quick hands, power, and tremendous kicks. Plus, she is great at moving forward and applying pressure. In this matchup, Fiorot is a difficult stylistic matchup for Chookagian. Fiorot could manage the distance, pressure forward, and land the more powerful strikes. This should nullify the striking advantages that Chookagian usually has. I will take Fiorot by decision.

Chris: To start our Main Card, we have a women’s Flyweight bout. We got #1 Katlyn Chookagian vs #6 Manon Fiorot. As Katlyn is known as the gatekeeper to the champion Valentina, I think her endurance and toughness will make her fight until the end time when she wins by Decision, which should lead to a title shot.

Jerry: Fiorot via decision.

No. 6 Beneil Dariush vs. Mateusz Gamrot (Lightweight)

Garrett: If you are not a fan of grappling, I would advise staying away from this one. Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot are both excellent grapplers, with Dariush being more proficient in BJJ and Gamrot in pure wrestling. Don’t get it twisted though, these guys can put together combos as well if this fight stays on the feet. I think the X-Factor in this fight is the gas tank of both men. This isn’t to say that the cardio of Dariush is bad, but that the cardio of Gamrot is great. Gamrot also has quick jabs and at times seems to be the more active fighter. If 10 of these 15 minutes are fought on the ground, I would not be surprised. I am leaning toward Gamrot via decision in a fight some fans may not enjoy, but this writer sure will.

James: Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot are set for an interesting fight at UFC 280. These are two tremendous grapplers that have excelled as of late. However, these two do not grapple the same. Dariush has high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu while Gamrot is a stronger wrestler. That does not mean they are bad in other disciplines, but those are their strongest skills. I think this bout will feature some highly competitive and technical grappling exchanges. I would not be surprised if these exchanges are fairly even. If that is the case, this fight could be left standing. On the feet, Dariush will have more power while Gamrot is quicker and more active. At the end of the day, the biggest strength I can point to, for either fighter, is Gamrot’s cardio. He looked great in the later rounds against Armen Tsarukyan. That Tsarukyan win is also the best win on either fighter’s resume. I think Gamrot will be more active on the feet and that should help him on the scorecards. I will take Gamrot by decision.

Chris: Next fight on hand is Dariush v Gamrot. Dariush is coming off a great win streak, not having lost since 2018. He has shown beautiful submission techniques and is a dominant wrestler, whilst also having heavy hands on the feet. Gamrot also being a dominant wrestler, expect to see this fight on the ground a lot. Still, give me Dariush by 2nd Rd Sub.

Jerry: Dariush via decision.

No. 1 Petr Yan vs. No. 11 Sean O’Malley (Bantamweight)

Garrett: This is where the going gets really good here in this UFC 280 preview. This matchup between Petr Yan and “Suga” Sean O’Malley has so many questions surrounding it. Will Yan be able to stop the meteoric rise of O’Malley and show the world he is the best 135er on the planet, or will O’Malley earn the biggest win of his career and set himself up for a future title shot? I think if O’Malley has any shot of getting out of this fight with a win, he must do it in the first round. Yan is a slow starter, and O’Malley likes to come out of the gates hot. If this fight sees a second round, it will be Yan controlling the fight with great adjustments made in between rounds. The height/range discrepancy between the two fighters will also be something to watch. If Yan can get inside the range of O’Malley and work the takedowns, it’s game over. While I may be personally rooting for the chaos of the major upset, for the sake of the picks I will take Yan via decision.

James: At UFC 280, Sean O’Malley will have an opportunity to become a superstar with a win over Petr Yan, the former UFC bantamweight champion. However, most people do not think that will happen. The narrative surrounding this fight is that Yan will dominate O’Malley. If you are one of those people, consider this a warning. I think Yan is the far better fighter, but he can be a slow starter. For example, he lost the first round against Cory Sandhagen. Usually, Yan makes that work as he will spend the beginning of the fight making reads which he will use to pull ahead later in the fight. In this fight, I could see O’Malley winning the first round as he stays on the outside and lands strikes while Yan is inactive and making reads. At some point, a switch will flip and Yan will pull ahead. The question is, when does that happen? If that does not happen until late in round two, O’Malley could escape with a narrow decision win. Personally, I think it happens early in the second round. In that case, Yan would win rounds two and three. I think this will be a closer call than most anticipate, but I will still take Yan by decision.

Chris: The third fight in this card is O’Malley’s biggest test in his career. Yan’s striking is crisp and very entertaining to watch. Insane power with infinite combos and combo ideas. But this also is a big test for “No Mercy”, as the reach and height difference is not something Petr has encountered before, therefore giving him a harder matchup than usual. I say Sean O’Malley picks him apart at range and defends takedowns if any and uses his reach to his advantage and clips Yan toward the end of the fight. I will take the upset and pick O’Malley via 3rd round TKO.

Jerry: Yan via KO/TKO.

(C) Aljamain Sterling vs. No. 2 TJ Dillashaw (UFC Bantamweight Championship)

Garrett: This very well be the fight I am looking forward to the most. A matchup between Aljamain Sterling and former champion TJ Dillashaw takes the co-main spot at UFC 280. Questions have surrounded Dillashaw this entire time. Questions of does he still have it? Was the Cory Sandhagen fight a fluke? Can he resort back to his former self? We will get those answers, but it won’t come easy against a fighter the caliber of Sterling. Sterling is an excellent wrestler who has gotten better with his striking during his UFC career. If he can take a guy down with the defense of Petr Yan, he can takedown nearly anyone. TJ has very good wrestling as well, so his ability to keep this fight standing will prove to be vital. I am going against the group here. I think the comeback story culminates with a victory for Dillashaw as he retakes his throne as king of the Bantamweights. Give me Dillashaw via TKO.

James: In the co-main event of UFC 280, TJ Dillashaw is looking to regain the UFC bantamweight title as he challenges Aljamain Sterling. The prime version of Dillashaw is a great fighter that throws terrific combos. Often, he ends combinations with head kicks and he lands those head kicks frequently. Plus, he has tremendous footwork that helps him control the cage and range. Meanwhile, Sterling is a terrific wrestler and he has supplemented his wrestling with good BJJ. Sterling may be the best fighter in the division at taking a fighter down and taking their back. Once he takes the back, he either lands a rear naked choke or he controls his opponent for the remainder of the round. Sterling also has a solid standup. However, it is not close to the caliber of Dillashaw. In this bout, I think Sterling will be able to consistently get this fight to the ground. Dillashaw has great takedown defense, but so does Yan, and Sterling was successful against Yan. If Sterling could find success on the ground against Yan, I think he does that and more against Dillashaw. As of late, Dillashaw has been inactive and injured too. That only swings this in Sterling’s favor. I will take Sterling by second-round submission.

Chris: The Co-Main event features a Bantamweight Championship fight between TJ Dillashaw and Aljamain Sterling. Does TJ still have it? His awkward standup game is his advantage against someone who’s fond of wrestling like Sterling. If Sterling fails to capitalize and defend against TJ’s stand-up game, he’s in for a rough night. However, say Sterling gets TJ on the ground, he has a field day. Give me Sterling 2nd Rd Submission.

Jerry: Sterling via submission.

UFC 280 Main Event: (C) Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev (UFC Lightweight Championship)

Garrett: You know the meme from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the famous Pepe Silvia meme? That’s me trying to figure out how to predict this fight. This is hands down the hardest fight for me to figure out on this UFC 280 preview. You have this dominant challenger in Islam Makhachev who absolutely smothers his opponents with his wrestling. He has looked incredible in his fights, even though his biggest knock is the quality of his opponents. I don’t listen to that noise. This dude is legit. However, Oliveira is a different breed, man. He has the most submission victories in UFC history but also has a fair amount of KO/TKO victories under his belt as well. I can’t remember a time when Oliveira went into a fight with a striking advantage. I have leaned away from “do Bronx” in his last two fights, and I just don’t think I can a third time. Again, I want the record to state I am personally leaning towards Islam, but for the picks’ sake, I will take Oliveira via decision.

James: The UFC 280 main event between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev is one of the most intriguing fights in recent memory. On one hand, you have Oliveira, who has beaten Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, and Michael Chandler in absolute wars. Oliveira is one of the most prolific finishers in UFC history. He has knockout power and some of the best submission skills in UFC history. On the other hand, Makhachev is a suffocating wrestler that has run through nearly all of his competition. Makhachev has looked so good that you can only compare him to his friend and training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov. What makes this fight so interesting is that Oliveira and Makhachev are the worst possible matchup for each other. These two fighters are the only fighters in the division that have a chance to grapple with each other. On one hand, Oliveira could threaten submissions in scrambles or during takedown attempts. At the same time, Makhachev could smother Oliveira’s crafty ground game. That grappling presence could negate Oliveira’s tremendous clinch work too. It is also worth noting that Oliveira may be more conservative on the feet to help avoid the wrestling of Makhachev. As far as a prediction goes, a lot of the signs point toward Makhachev. With that being said, I can not ignore Oliveira’s finishing ability or the fact that this will be the first time in recent memory that he has a striking advantage. I will take Oliveira by second-round knockout.

Chris: We have come to the main event to the biggest card of 2022. Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev. This fight is very questionable on how you’re supposed to climb the ranks, with Islam not fighting anyone in the Top 5 ever, getting a title shot against the former Lightweight champion, Oliveira. However, regardless of the stat, he has shown phenomenal grappling skills. Islam has the least amount of significant strikes against him, absorbing only .84 significant strikes per minute. But Islam hasn’t faced a threat like Charles Oliveira. Charles is a huge threat due to him having the most submissions in HISTORY! Not to mention he has many TKO/KO wins against great strikers and beats them at their own game, Islam doesn’t stand a chance on the feet. I’ll take Charles Oliveira via TKO.

Jerry: Oliveira via submission

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