UFC 280: Charles Oliveira v Islam Makhachev will top bill in Abu Dhabi

Pair will meet in blockbuster at Etihad Arena in October for vacant lightweight belt

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A blockbuster lightweight title bout between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will headline the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi in October.

The clash for the vacant belt - Oliveira was stripped of the crown in May after missing weight ahead of his defence against Justin Gaethje – tops the bill at UFC 280 at Etihad Arena on October 22. The promotion announced the bout on Saturday night, during the UFC Fight Night in Elmont, New York.

The Oliveira-Makhachev match-up pits together the most recent lightweight champion and the division’s No 4-ranked contender. Oliveira, who won the title vacated by Khabib Nurmgomedov and went on to successfully defend it once before being stripped, rides an 11-fight win streak.

Makhachev, meanwhile, has won 10 on the bounce. The Dagestani has fought in Abu Dhabi twice before, winning against Davi Ramos at UFC 242 in September 2019 before defeating Dan Hooker by first-round submission at UFC 267 last October – the promotion’s most recent stop in the capital.

Islam Makhachev (l) beats Dan Hooker at UFC 267 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, in October 2021. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Oliveira, who sits at No 4 in the pound-for-pound rankings, will be eager to reclaim the belt after relinquishing the crown having missed championship weight by half a pound before UFC 274 two months ago. The Brazilian, whose professional record reads 33-8, went on to submit Gaethje in the first round.

Makhachev, now coached by close friend Nurmagomedov, last competed in February, when he defeated late stand-in Bobby Green by first-round TKO to lift his pro record to 22-1.

Updated: July 21, 2022, 8:31 AM
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