UFC 280: Makhachev vows to take belt back home with win over Oliveira in Abu Dhabi

Headline bout for October 22 at Etihad Arena was confirmed late on Saturday night

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Islam Makhachev says he will be taking the UFC lightweight title back to his native Dagestan after his headline bout with Charles Oliveira was confirmed for Abu Dhabi in October.

The UFC announced on Saturday night the main event for their return to the capital, with UFC 280 at Etihad Arena on October 22. The contest, which pits the most recent lightweight champion against the division’s No 4-ranked contender, will be for the vacant 155-pound title after Oliveira was stripped of the belt in May.

Reacting to confirmation of the bout, Makhachev posted on Twitter: “October 22, I’m bringing UFC lightweight belt back to Dagestan Inshallah.”

Not long after, Oliveira responded: ‘LET’S GO! Going to face Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, October 22.”

Although he does not hold the belt, Oliveira is widely considered the lightweight champion. The Brazilian, 32, claimed the vacant belt in May last year and went on to defend successfully against Dustin Poirier in December, only to then miss weight by half a pound before his defence against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 two months ago.

Oliveira still defeated the former interim champion by first-round submission to take his win streak to 11, with 10 coming by way of finishes. His professional mixed martial arts record stands at 33-8.

Makhachev, meanwhile, rides a 10-fight win streak, with his most recent coming in February with the first-round TKO of late replacement Bobby Brown. The supreme grappler, 30, has fought in Abu Dhabi twice before, at UFC 242 in September 2019 and then again last October at UFC 267 - the promotion last visit to the UAE. Makhachev, 22-1 as a pro, defeated Dan Hooker by first-round submission, at Etihad Arena.

A regular visitor to Abu Dhabi, Makhachev told The National in February that he wanted to fight for the title in the emirate. He a longtime teammate of retired former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who now serves as his coach.

On Saturday night, in the aftermath of UFC Fight Night in New York, promotional president Dana White told reporters that Oliveira-Makhachev “makes sense in Abu Dhabi".

"Everybody wanted to do it," White said. "I think everybody wanted to see it. So here we are.”

UFC 280 is also expected to feature a welterweight encounter between Belal Muhammad and Sean Brady, although it is yet to be made official.

Oliveira dominates Gaethje at UFC 274

Updated: July 21, 2022, 8:30 AM
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