Watch Now:UFC 280 Preview: Best Bets(113)

The time for talking is over. The Octagon door is ready to be closed with some of the best fighters on the planet ready to battle it out at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.

It doesn’t get much bigger than the vacant lightweight title bout anchoring the event when Charles Oliveira takes on Islam Makhachev. Oliveira previously held the title before missing weight in his last bout against Justin Gaethje. He went on to defeat Gaethje by first-round submission, continuing an insane run of victories for the Brazilian as he looks to etch his name in the history books.

Makhachev, meanwhile, has steamrolled all of the foes placed against him. The Russian native has won 10 in a row since his lone pro defeat in 2015 with his last four coming by stoppage.

Elsewhere on the card, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling looks to continue his incredible run when he takes on former champ TJ Dillashaw in the co-main event. Sterling secured a split decision win over Petr Yan earlier this year to silence the critics of his winning the title from Yan by disqualification in their first meeting. Dillashaw is back after a year away because of injury and also not too far away from a two-year drug suspension that cost him the title.

The other major attraction on Saturday will be the bantamweight contest between former champion Petr Yan and fan-favorite Sean O’Malley. Yan has been a destructive force since joining the promotion in 2018. He rode that wave all the way to the title before an illegal knee against Sterling cost him the title in their first meeting. He earned the interim strap with a win over Cory Sandhagen but then lost a close split decision to Sterling in their rematch. O’Malley, meanwhile, has feasted on lesser competition since joining the promotion. His lone loss to Marlon Vera sticks out, but he has stopped every other opponent since then with the exception of a no contest against Pedro Munhoz in July.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 280 fight card,

  • Islam Makhachev -190 vs. Charles Oliveira +160, vacant lightweight title
  • Aljamain Sterling (c) -175 vs. TJ Dillashaw +150, bantamweight title
  • Petr Yan -270 vs. Sean O’Malley +220, bantamweights
  • Matuesz Gamrot -190 vs. Beneil Dariush +160, lightweights
  • Manon Fiorot -210 vs. Katlyn Chookagian +175, women’s flyweights
  • Sean Brady -140 vs. Belal Muhammad +120, welterweights
  • Caio Borralho -200 vs. Makhmud Muradov +170, middleweights
  • Nikita Krylov -170 vs. Volkan Oezdemir +145, light heavyweights
  • Abubakar Nurmagomedov -165 vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev +140, welterweights
  • Armen Petrosyan -220 vs. A.J. Dobson +180, middleweights
  • Muhammad Mokaev -1000 vs. Malcolm Gordon +650, flyweights
  • Karol Rosa -300 vs. Lina Lansberg +240, women’s bantamweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 280 picks, predictions

Oliveira vs. Makhachev Makhachev Oliveira Oliveira Oliveira Oliveira
Sterling vs. Dillashaw Dillashaw Sterling Sterling Sterling Dillashaw
Yan vs. O’Malley O’Malley Yan Yan Yan Yan
Dariush vs. Gamrot Gamrot Dariush Gamrot Gamrot Gamrot
Chookagian vs. Fiorot Chookagian Fiorot Chookagian Chookagian Fiorot
Records to date (2022) 26-22 26-22 26-22 25-23 31-17

Oliveira vs. Makhachev

Campbell: The scariest part of Oliveira’s recent run of dramatic finishes might be what no one talks about: the fact that he welcomes so much danger to create the kind of chaos that melts his opponents. From a contrast in styles standpoint, Makhachev is the worst type of opponent for him. The protege of Khabib Nurmagomedov excels at making you fight his game and won’t be so easy to bait into a brawl like Oliveira did against the likes of Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje.

It’s not a question of if Makhachev will take Oliveira down but, instead, how many minutes each round he will control from top position and whether Oliveira, the most prolific finisher in UFC history, can establish enough submission threat to dissuade him. Oliveira captalizes upon his opponent’s mistakes, often in the midst of chaos. The problem is that Makhachev almost never makes any and is as difficult as any in the UFC at steering off of his Plan A attack.

Brookhouse: Until further notice, I simply can’t pick against Oliveira. He has started to put everything together in very special ways during a historic run. Makhachev is going to have to close distance and avoid significant danger from Oliveira’s strikes. On the ground Makhachev might be able to maul the Brazilian, but he has to be careful for every second to not get caught in a submission. Oliveira might just be too complete of a fighter for Makhachev, who is great at what he does but not nearly as well-rounded.