Betting sites have the UFC 280 odds, and Makhachev is the favorite to win the main event. Oliveira, in spite of the scale snafu back at UFC 274, continues to carry about him the air of a champion. “Do Bronx” has encountered a veritable murderer’s row of opponents in his 11-fight winning streak and he has never not come out on top.
The 32-year-old hasn’t been getting a lot of respect from the best online sportsbooks in this stretch either. They had him pegged as a narrow fave versus Justin Gaethje (-170) and Michael Chandler (-130). Moreover, he was fighting as the underdog versus Dustin Poirier (+135) and Tony Ferguson (+140).
As for Makhachev, he has been enjoying a 10-fight winning streak. He has won his last 4 fights via a string of stoppages (three SUB, one KO/TKO). Over that finishing streak, the tightest odds he has gotten were -400 (versus Drew Dober). Betting sites can’t get enough of him, and who among us could blame them. Islam has been touted as the second coming of Khabib Nurmagomedov even though the latter is still around. We will have to wait and see how well he fares in his first title match.
Islam Makhachev vs Charles Oliveira
Islam Makhachev is a vicious top-mounter. Methodical and heavy, he’ll smother Oliveira, working to pass guard and locking down a D’arce choke or maybe a kimura. Oliveira has been fighting in the UFC forever, and has three submission losses.
Makhachev’s one UFC loss dates all the way back to 2015 versus Adriano Martins. That bout ended badly for Islam. He exchanged some mild blows before Martins knocked him out with a counter left hand.
There’s a way for Charles to defeat Islam, especially if he uses his four-inch reach advantage and lands quick, fiery blows. The longer the fight remains erect, the better chance Oliveira has. He’ll press forward with overhand punches, left hooks, knees and elbows.
It’s unlikely he’ll submit Makhachev, so he’ll have to switch to defensive jiu-jitsu. Charles needs to keep his guard closed and keep Makhachev from stepping over him. There’s a way to victory if Oliveira tires out Makhachev.
Oliveira’s long extremities are an advantage. Expect him to throw up submission attempts or just for kicks. Patience will be crucial, and that is why we think this fight will be decided OVER 2.5 rounds at UFC betting sites.
Pick: Makhachev via Submission
Tj Dillashaw vs. Aljamain Sterling
Sterling’s last two bouts were against Yan (a split decision win and a DQ win). Prior to that, he beat Cory Sandhagen via submission.
The American’s past three bouts have come against Sandhagen (won by split decision), Cejudo (lost by technical knockout) and Cody Garbrandt (won by technical knockout).
Pick: Dillashaw via decision.
Sean O’Malley vs. Petr Yan
O’Malley’s past 3 fights were against Pedro Munhoz (no contest as a result of an accidental eye poke), Raulian Paiva (won by knockout) and Kris Moutinho (won by technical knockout).
Yan’s last 3 fights were against Sterling (lost by split decision), Sandhagen (won by unanimous decision) and Sterling (lost by disqualification).
Pick: Yan via decision.
Mateusz Gamrot vs. Beneil Dariush
Dariush’s previous three fights were against Tony Ferguson (won by unanimous decision), Diego Ferreira (won by split decision) and Scott Holtzman (won by knockout).
Gamrot’s prior three fights were against Arman Tsarukyan (won by unanimous decision), Ferreira (won by submission via strikes) and Stephens (won by submission).
Manon Fiorot vs Katlyn Chookagian
Katlyn Chookagian has a two-inch height advantage and three-inch reach advantage over her foe. As the longer athlete in most matchups, “Blonde Fighter” is usually successful when she punches from a distance. She has won 15 of her 18 career bouts by decision. Chookagian lacks the pace to score a finish, but she throws heavy blows, in particular straight-high kick combos.
Chookagian remains the top-ranked flyweight contender. Beating her won’t be an easy task. Fiorot will need to rely on her heavy fists to get the job done. Her left and right hooks are lethal, and so are her kicks. Fiorot deserves her nickname of “The Beast,” and if she is able to rattle off some clean hits and build up pressure versus Chookagian, we could be in for a stoppage finish.
Pick: Fiorot via decision.