UFC 280 talk: Islam Makhachev imitates his mentor


Islam Makhachev has won 11 fights in the UFC

Islam Makhachev emulated his coach and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov when he beat Charles Oliveira to win the lightweight title at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.

In the main event, TJ Dillashaw struggled with a dislocated shoulder in a loss to Aljamain Sterling.

Elsewhere, Sean O’Malley made a statement, Muhammad Mokaev and Belal Muhammad continued his winning streak.

Here are five things we learned from UFC 280.

Makhachev’s title win was poetic

Two years ago, Nurmagomedov ended his undefeated streak by defeating Justin Gaethje in Abu Dhabi to retain his lightweight title before announcing his retirement.

After the death of his father and mentor Abdulmanap, Nurmagomedov kept the promise he made to his mother after the Gaethje fight.

As one Dagestan fighter left the UFC, another began building his legacy.

Makhachev, 31, had a six-fight winning streak at the time and displayed many of the same qualities inside the Octagon as Nurmagomedov, his trainer and mentor, champion.

Four wins later, he won the title with Oliveira at the same venue where Nurmagomedov last fought.

With Nurmagomedov cheering Makhachev on from the cage, he emulated his coach to win the lightweight title, sparking jubilant scenes.

The celebrations showed how much they meant to the Dagestan fighters and coaches.

Dillashaw fights through the pain barrier

The co-main event was stripped of its true potential after Dillashaw dislocated his shoulder in the first round, handing the advantage to Sterling.

At one point, American Dillashaw, 36, looked like he was about to be knocked out, before grinning and fighting back, surviving until the end of the round.

Dillashaw’s corner team threw his shoulder back in the second round as he fought using only one arm before succumbing to Sterling’s ground and pound.

In the post-fight interview, Dillashaw revealed that he dislocated his shoulder more than 20 times during the fight.

O’Malley is the real deal

Petr Yan and Sean O'Malley shaking hands after the fight
Sean O’Malley (right) extended his record to 16 wins and a loss

Many people were surprised when it was announced that Petr Yan – the former bantamweight champion and the number one ranked athlete in the division – would fight rising star Sean O’Malley.

Some thought Russian Yan would have too much wrestling experience for O’Malley, but the American proved his doubters wrong by taking a split decision to pick up the biggest win of his career.

Many fighters and pundits disagreed with the decision, however.

O’Malley, 27, said in his post-fight interview that he wasn’t sure if he did enough to win the fight, given how close it was, but regardless, his performance proved he belongs in the Octagon with the division’s elite fighters.

A bantamweight title shot against Aljamain Sterling could be next for O’Malley.

A boom is brewing around Mokaev

It was another impressive performance from Britain’s Muhammad Mokaev as he beat Malcolm Gordon for his third win of the year.

The Dagestan-born fighter dominated the fight, before earning an armbar submission in the third round to earn his ninth career win, keeping his career start undefeated.

At 22, Mokaev still has his best years ahead of him and is being touted by experts as a future champion.

One thing to keep in mind at flyweight…

Muhammad makes a statement

By beating the previously undefeated Sean Brady, Belal Muhammad staked his claim to being among the top contenders in the welterweight division.

The American-Palestinian fighter stopped Brady in the second round after a punch to extend his winning streak to eight fights.

After the fight, Muhammad called out welterweight champion Leon Edwards, who he faced last year in a fight that ended in a no-contest after an accidental poke in the eye.

Edwards will likely face Kamaru Usman in a trilogy fight for the title, leaving Colby Covington, Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns as Muhammad’s next potential opponents.

Beat either of them, though, and Muhammad would be primed for a chance against the champion.

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