UFC 280 will feature No. 1 contender Charles Oliveira (33-8) facing off against No. 4 Islam Makhachev (22-1) in a fight for the vacant UFC lightweight title. The highly anticipated bout is on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m. ET, in Abu Dhabi – exclusively on ESPN+ PPV.
Former Brazilian champion Oliveira is coming off a round one submission victory over Justin Gaethje, a fight where his title was stripped after failing to make the 155-pound weight limit. Oliveira now looks to reclaim his throne against Russian challenger, Makhachev.
Praise Makhachev has received
For Makhachev, this seems to be just another fight. His 10-fight win streak has been completed in dominating fashion – smothering his opponents until they eventually quit.
Makhachev is one of the most hyped-up contenders on the roster, with extreme support from friend and UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“If Islam [Makhachev] beats Charles [Oliveira] and then beats new blood from [the] young generation… [If] Islam beats Charles, Islam beats three more fighters, Islam can be the greatest lightweight ever, you know, he has that potential,”Nurmagomedov told TMZ Sports
Pre-Fight Press conference gets intense
Both men engaged in a heated back-and-forth exchange during the UFC 280 Pre-Fight Press conference:
A tough path for both fighters
Despite being at the pinnacle of the sport, it has not been an easy road for any fighter by any means.
Win, lose or draw, both of these warriors have not only taken everything thrown their way in the octagon – they have taken everything life has thrown at them as well.
Oliveira comes from São Paulo, Brazil. Raised in the favelas of Guarujá, São Paulo – Oliveira’s rough past has molded him into the champion he is known as. Oliveira has spoken numerous times about how life has hit him harder than he has ever been punched.
“I lost friends to crime. Unfortunately, some died, others are in prison. I still know people who live off it, [crime] they chose it. But thanks to my mother, I chose the right side. We chose the right side, all my family, all my brothers. And bro, I say this a lot, sports save lives,”Oliveira said on the Ironberg Podcast
Oliveira takes pride in where he comes from. After becoming the lightweight champion, he made it his mission to rebuild his community:
“This is my grandma’s house; mine is in the back. Now, we are remodeling it, and it’s looking good. Every time I come here, I remember where I come from. I say, ‘Brother, it’s like this, I made it in life, you can make it too,”Oliveira said in the UFC 274 Countdown Episode
Who knows where Oliveira would be now if not for mixed martial arts? Oliveira remembers his humble beginnings, now taking every opportunity to show fans that he is the “Kid from the favela that has made it.”
Makhachev was born in Dagestan, Makhachkala – a place he pridefully represents each time he makes the walk to the octagon.
“This labor, building, digging, gathering, breeding livestock, it’s all physical labor. Hard work is in our DNA. We worked out using stones, often running up the mountain, sometimes three times a day working out using stones. These harsh conditions create real men,”Makhachev said in his UFC Origins dedication
“When I started with MMA, my goal wasn’t to become a UFC champion. Representing our republic, our country, is the reason I fight,” Makhachev added.
What have we learned?
Fireworks will be expected inside the cage this weekend. Both contenders will be looking to prove that everything they have endured in their life was for this opportunity.
Despite what happens in the expected barnburner Saturday afternoon, let us all take a moment to appreciate everything these fighters have been through in their rise to the top.