The expectation from former UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and his late father, Abdulmanap, was that Khabib would retire from the UFC and shortly after that, Islam Makhachev would take his spot on the throne. Makhachev made that dream a reality on Saturday with a dominant win over ex-champion Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 280.
The second-round submission victory came almost two years since Nurmagomedov made his final title defense with a second-round submission win over Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi.
In the co-main event, an admittedly selfish and apologetic T.J. Dillashaw participated in a fight he had no business accepting. He lost that fight via second round TKO and then promptly delivered a fairly empty statement to the rest of the division, after falling to UFC bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling.
Before the top two matchups, Sean O’Malley answered many questions about his standing as a legitimate contender and potential title challenger in the 135-pound division, while veterans Beneil Dariush and Belal Muhammad continued to rack up wins and build their cases for title shots in their respective divisions.
Read on for all the UFC 280 fight winners and losers. UFC 280 took place at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card streamed on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews.
Islam Makhachev: Islam Makhachev was dominant in earning the vacant UFC lightweight title. He landed an incredible 73 percent of his significant strikes and 84 percent of his total strikes while going two-for-three in takedowns and racking up 5:05 of control time during the 8:16 of fight action.
The 31-year-old protege of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was overwhelming in getting the win.
Khabib Nurmagomedov: I’m sure Islam Makhachev was happier than Khabib Nurmagomedov at the end of the UFC 280 main event, but only by an infinitesimal amount.
Aljamain Sterling: Aljamain Sterling did what he needed to do to beat an injured T.J. Dillashaw and when you’re the champ, that’s all you need to do.
Sean O’Malley: I don’t know if Sean O’Malley has what it takes to become a UFC champion, but his doubters—of which I was one until Saturday—should be silenced following UFC 280. O’Malley’s striking and ability to use his length will keep him in any bantamweight fight. If he can shore up his takedown defense and strengthen his striking defense, he’ll be a more significant threat than he already is.
Beneil Dariush vs. Mateusz Gamrot: There are levels to MMA, which Mateusz Gamrot found out on Saturday, compliments of Beneil Dariush. Dariush picked up his eighth straight win, defeating Gamrot via decision. Dariush’s takedown defense was excellent, his grappling skills top-notch, the timing of his strikes sublime and his cardio magnificent on the way to getting his hand raised.
Like Belal Muhammad before him on this card, Dariush fought down the rankings, No. 6 vs. No. 9, and scored an upset win. In his post-fight interview, Dariush said he would not beg for anything, but the UFC matchmakers need to get him an opponent ranked above him for his next outing.
As for Gamrot, the decision loss didn’t expose him, but it should serve as a lesson as to what it takes to get to the next level of MMA.
The UFC matchmakers did a great job in setting up this fight.
Taila Santos: For someone who did not fight over the past two weeks, Taila Santos might have been the biggest winner in the UFC women’s flyweight division. Alexa Grasso and Manon Fiorot picked up high-profile wins in the division over that time. However, neither of those women said they wanted a matchup with that division’s champ, Valentina Shevchenko. With that, the UFC matchmakers should give Santos a rematch with Shevchenko. The two fought in June, with Shevchenko taking the split-decision nod.
Belal Muhammad: Belal Muhammad made a statement at UFC 280. An underdog against the lower-ranked Sean Brady, Muhammad shed his reputation as “only” a point fighter, at least for one night, and showed he is unafraid to engage in a war.
Muhammad used pressure and head strikes to break down the rising Brady to get his first knockout since 2016.
The stoppage victory should set up Muhammad with a title fight or, at the very least, a title eliminator. In his post-fight interview, Muhammad, who is unbeaten in his past nine outings, called for the title fight or a matchup against Khamzat Chimaev.
Caio Borralho: Caio Borralho made some incremental improvements at UFC 280. In his previous fight, a July decision victory over Armen Petrosyan, he seemed content to gain top control and stall. Borralho was a little busier in that position during this fight. If he hopes to move forward, Borralho needs to up his aggression and output.
At 29, Borralho is 3-0 in the UFC and on a 10-fight winning streak. So, he is headed in the right direction, but against more well-rounded opponents, his approach to fighting will do him no favors.
Nikita Krylov: Nikita Krylov might have been too confident in his chin and striking in the early moments of his light heavyweight bout opposite Volkan Oezdemir. However, once he settled down and fought to his strengths, he dominated the fight, racking up takedowns and controlling things on the ground.
I don’t know how much this victory will raise Krylov in the official UFC light heavyweight rankings. He was No. 8 before his UFC 280 unanimous decision victory. Still, he should move up to No. 7, which Dominick Reyes currently holds. Reyes is on a three-fight losing skid. He hasn’t fought since May 2021.
Muhammad Mokaev: Muhammad Mokaev is a talented wrestler with a ton of confidence. He also just celebrated his 22nd birthday on July 30. Unfortunately, that confidence, talent, age and the hype he had behind him when he entered the UFC earlier this year seem to be working against him a little bit.
There were times in his fight, a contest Mokaev entered as a -1150 favorite, against Malcolm Gordon, where he seemed to be more interested in showing off than getting a statement victory.
Mokaev is brash and outspoken and he has talent and potential. But, as he said in his post-fight interview, he can’t underestimate opponents. I think he did that a bit against Gordon.
Karol Rosa: Karol Rosa realized early that her opponent, Lina Lansberg, did not have much to offer in the way of takedown defense and the ability to get off her back. She took advantage of her opponent’s weaknesses during the first two rounds. However, Rosa also seemed content to rack up control time while she was in top position on the mat. If Rosa hopes to move forward, she needs to find a better balance between ground control and aggression on the ground. If she fails to do so, she could find herself of the wrong side of the scorecards.
Rosa scored on the feet in the third round when she found success with her strikes against a tired Lansberg.
Charles Oliveira: Charles Oliveira lost his first fight in more than four years on Saturday. The bout was one-sided, but Oliveira’s run between June 2018 and Saturday needs to be acknowledged, especially since the 33-year-old got better very deep into his long UFC career.
By the time Oliveira’s unbeaten run of 11 fights began in 2018, he was already nearly eight years into his UFC career. That he achieved what he did after starting his run with the promotion as a 10-8-0-1 fighter needs to be commended.
T.J. Dillashaw: T.J. Dillashaw apologizing for staying in a fight he barely had a chance of winning sounded nice, but those words feel empty and meaningless. He selfishly kept up the appearance that he would be able to compete and for what? A paycheck? To avoid surgery? He did himself, the weight class, his opponent and the UFC a disservice by fighting at UFC 280 with a shoulder he knew would not hold up during the event.
Petr Yan: The loss to Sean O’Malley shouldn’t hurt Petr Yan too much, if at all. The fight was competitive and the split decision result could have easily gone his way. Yan won’t get the next title fight, but outside of that, he remains one of the top fighters in the division.
Manon Fiorot: I don’t know if something was lost in the translation, but Manon Fiorot had an opportunity, after scoring a win over the No. 1 ranked fighter in the UFC women’s flyweight division, to call for a matchup against that division’s champion, Valentina Shevchenko. She didn’t do that, which will make her very easy to overlook when the UFC matchmakers look to line up Shevchenko’s next title fight.
Sean Brady: Sean Brady had a good start to his welterweight bout opposite Belal Muhammad, but his veteran opponent had the superior game plan and the chin to implement that plan.
The knockout loss was the first of Brady’s career. With that, I am very interested to see what type of fighter Brady returns in his next outing. From everything we’ve seen from the 29-year-old, I expect he will be improved and out to make a point.
Volkan Oezdemir: Volkan Oezdemir had a good first minute of his fight opposite Nikita Krylov. Outside of that brief success, he didn’t have much to offer.
Oezdemir, a former light heavyweight title challenger, is now 1-3 over the past two years.
Lina Lansberg: Lina Lansberg dropped her third straight decision in the evening’s open fight. Lansberg offered little in the way of takedown defense or the ability to get off her back once Karol Rosa put her to the mat.
UFC commentators: Once again, Paul Felder and Daniel Cormier mentioned takedowns stealing rounds. That’s not how MMA scoring works. They should both know that. Old and bad habits seem incredibly hard to break for UFC employees.
Anyone who allowed T.J. Dillashaw to continue: I don’t have a problem in letting T.J. Dillashaw start the second round. I do have a problem with everyone who allowed Dillashaw to continue once it became apparent that he was fighting with one arm.
Henry Cejudo: C’mon now. Aljamain Sterling was born in New York.
Yo @danawhite give me the next title shot! Let’s bring this title back to America— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) October 22, 2022