MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 62, a five-round vacant UFC lightweight title bout between Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira. The event takes place on Saturday, October 22 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Islam Makhachev (-180)
Makhachev (22-1) is the No. 4 ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 31-year-old Russia joined the UFC in 2015 and since then he has an 11-1 record in the Octagon with notable wins over Arman Tsarukyan, Bobby Green, and Dan Hooker. Makhachev is a longtime teammate of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and, just like the former champ, he has some of the best grappling chops in the business. In most instances, Makhachev is able to get his opponents down to the mat and then control them on the mat, if not finish them. However, there are still questions about his level of competition in the Octagon. There is no doubt that Makhachev is one of the best lightweights in the sport, but until he defeats an elite opponent in their prime, it’s hard to say he’s the best fighter in his division. He may very well prove that he is with a victory in this fight, but until we actually see Makhachev beat someone on Oliveira’s level, the jury remains out on him.
Charles Oliveira (+155)
Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC) is the former UFC lightweight champion and the current No. 1 contender at 155lbs. The 33-year-old Brazilian has been in the UFC since 2010 and he has fought and beaten many of the best fighters in the world at 145lbs and 155lbs. Since permanently moving up to lightweight back in 2017, Oliveira is 12-1 in his new weight class, and he’s riding an 11-fight win streak at the moment with big wins over the likes of Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson, and Justin Gaethje. Oliveira is the UFC’s all-time greatest submission artist and he also has knockout power, making him a truly elite fighter. It will be interesting to see if he can get his belt back against Makhachev, given that his foe has some of the best wrestling skills we’ve seen in the Octagon.
Fight Breakdown: The main event of UFC 280 should be one of the best lightweight title fights of all time between two of the best 155lbers we have ever seen inside the Octagon. Makhachev has only lost one time in the Octagon and he is currently riding an impressive 10-fight win streak. Oliveira, meanwhile, has won his last 11 fights and he has been beating the most elite opponents inside the Octagon. Overall, it’s not an easy fight to pick, but ultimately it does feel strange to see Oliveira as a decent-sized underdog given how incredible he has looked since moving up to lightweight. As good as Makhachev is, he still hasn’t proven that he can beat the most elite lightweights in the game, whereas Oliveira has shown during his win streak that he can finish all of them. Makhachev might have the style to beat Oliveira, but until I see it happen, I have to go with Oliveira. So give me the former champ to regain his belt with an upset finish over Makhachev.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira