UFC 280 lowdown: Islam Makhachev and Aljamain Sterling headline Abu Dhabi return

World's lead MMA promotion back in UAE capital with packed card at Etihad Arena on October 22

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The UFC makes its return to Abu Dhabi next month with its latest pay-per-view event: a stacked UFC 280 featuring two title bouts. Here’s the lowdown on what promises to be another blockbuster night in the capital.

What is it?

UFC 280, the latest pay-per-view event from the world’s lead mixed martial arts organisation. The card is headlined by the highly anticipated clash between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight crown. In the night’s other championship bout, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling takes on former belt-holder TJ Dillashaw. Several other intriguing fights have been confirmed. UFC 280 marks the conclusion to the third Abu Dhabi Showdown Week.

When is it?

UFC 280 is on Saturday, October 22. Abu Dhabi Showdown Week runs October 17-23.

Where is it?

Etihad Arena. The arena opened officially with UFC 257 in January last year, and staged UFC 267 in October – the promotion’s most recent visit to the capital.

Who’s fighting?

At the top of the bill, Oliveira will be attempting to reclaim the lightweight title he relinquished ahead of UFC 274 in May when he missed weight against Justin Gaethje. The Brazilian, 33-8 as a professional, sits third in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings and rides an 11-fight win streak. Makhachev, meanwhile, has won 10 on the spin, including two previous victories in Abu Dhabi. The Dagestani is the division’s No 4-ranked contender.

In the night’s other championship encounter, Sterling defends his bantamweight belt for the second time, this time against former champion Dillashaw. Sterling, who captured the crown last year in controversial circumstances against then-champion Petr Yan, defeated his Russian rival in the much-hyped rematch in April via split decision. Dillashaw will provide another stern test: the American, who lost the belt in 2019 after testing positive for a banned substance, is the division’s No 2-ranked contender.

Another standout match-up on the already stellar card pits against one another Yan and rising star Sean O’Malley. Yan, the No 1-challenger at bantamweight, will be looking to build on two previous victories in Abu Dhabi, while O’Malley fights outside the United States for the first time in the UFC. The American, always electric, has fast become one of the sport’s most popular athletes.

Elsewhere, in-form lightweights Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot will go head-to-head to move closer to title contention, while a top welterweight bout between Belal Muhammad and Sean Brady promises much.

Meanwhile, No 1-ranked flyweight contender Katlyn Chookagian meets UAE Warriors graduate Manon Fiorot, while the prelims carry a number of interesting match-ups. For that, the middleweight bout between Uzbekistan's Makhmud Muradov and talented Brazilian Caio Borralho stands out.

Current Card *announced bouts only, subject to change

Charles Oliveira v Islam Makhachev (vacant lightweight title)

Aljamain Sterling (c) v TJ Dillashaw (bantamweight title)

Petr Yan v Sean O’Malley (bantamweight)

Beneil Dariush v Mateusz Gamrot (lightweight)

Katlyn Chookagian v Manon Fiorot (women's flyweight)

Belal Muhammad v Sean Brady (welterweight)

Volkan Oezdemir v Nikita Krylov (light heavyweight)

Zubaira Tukhugov v Lucas Almeida (featherweight)

Abubakar Nurmagomedov v Gadzhi Omargadzhiev

Magomed Mustafaev v Jamie Mullarkey (lightweight)

Muhammad Mokaev v Malcolm Gordon (flyweight)

How to watch in UAE

Given demand, only VIP packages and hotel bundles are available, and can be accessed via https://ufcvip.com/d/ufc-280-tickets or https://www.etihadarena.ae/en/event-booking/ufc-280. Fight fans unable to attend in person can watch all the action through the UFC Arabia app.

Updated: September 23, 2022, 5:15 AM
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