UFC 280 Picks, Predictions, Odds

Two UFC titles will be up for grabs at UFC 280 this weekend. The UFC Lightweight Championship is currently vacant after Charles Oliveira failed to make weight before UFC 274 in May, and he will be facing Islam Makhachev for the title. Oliveira is an underdog by the current UFC betting odds despite winning 11 straight fights, as many are hailing Makhachev as the next great lightweight. Meanwhile, Aljamain Sterling is expected to successfully defend his UFC Bantamweight Championship against T.J. Dillashaw according to the oddsmakers.

UFC 280 will take place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Saturday, October 22, 2022. The prelims will start at 10 a.m. ET and will be shown on ESPN News, while the main event is slated to get underway at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev Picks

A few talking heads are trying to claim that Charles Oliveira would be the greatest lightweight in UFC history with a win over Islam Makhachev, but Oliveira needs to do a lot more to outshine the great Khabib Nurmagomedov. Oliveira does hold the record for the most submission victories in UFC history with 16 wins by submission, but he is 21-8-1 in the UFC and has continually failed to make weight. He was stripped of the title before his showdown with Justin Gaethje after failing to make weight at UFC 274, and that was the fifth time he has failed to reach the agreed upon weight.

Oliveira is seen as a submission specialist, but even his coach admits that Islam Makhachev is an elite wrestler that is even better on the ground than the great Khabib. Makhachev has been seen as the heir apparent to his former training partner ever since Khabib walked away from the UFC, and he suffocates his opponents. Only six of his last 10 wins have been the result of finishes, as Makhachev is content to just smother his competition and take the fight to the scorecards.

This is going to be an odd fight for Oliveira as he doesn’t have the advantage on the ground. He is likely to try and use his 3.5-inch reach advantage to control the fight and stay on his feet more often than we usually see in his bouts. As long as Makhachev picks his spots right and doesn’t get caught out, he should be able to control Oliveira on the ground and claim the strap.

To Win Fight: Islam Makhachev (-160)
Total Rounds: Over 2.5 (+120)

Aljamain Sterling has won seven straight fights. (Getty)

Aljamain Sterling vs. T.J. Dillashaw Picks

We have already seen Aljamain Sterling address the elephant in the room with regards to this fight. T.J. Dillashaw was suspended for two years after testing positive for EPO, and while Dillashaw claims that was the only time he used the performance enhancer, multiple fighters have come out to say otherwise.

This will be Dillashaw’s third fight since August 2018. He was dominated by Henry Cejudo in January 2019 (the bout where he tested positive for EPO), but he didn’t fight again until facing Cory Sandhagen last summer. Dillashaw had to settle for a controversial split decision victory in that showdown, and he has yet to show the skill that made him a champion.

Although Dillashaw might have a little extra gas in the tank, Sterling is still the pick as he has been more impressive in his recent fights. He submitted Sandhagen in the first round at UFC 250 two years ago, and he looked sharp in his title defense against Petr Yan back in April. 

To Win Fight: Aljamain Sterling (-170)
Total Rounds: Under 4.5 (+137)

Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley Picks

At this point, you’ve missed the boat if you are looking to bet on Sean O’Malley. When the UFC betting odds for this promotion were released last month, O’Malley was an underdog of +300 or more. There has been steady action on Sugar Sean since that point, leading to his odds falling to +225. 

O’Malley is a fan favorite that usually delivers the excitement. That has definitely driven some of the action, and he also has a significant reach advantage with both his arms and legs. However, he has never taken down someone like Petr Yan, and the last time he fought a highly regarded opponent, he was knocked out in the first round by Marlon Vera two years ago.

Yan is very battle-tested. His last five fights have all been against bantamweight or featherweight champions, and the only person he has been unable to beat is Aljamain Sterling. Yan was dominating their first fight before he was disqualified because of an illegal knee though, so that has to be taken into account. The Under is strong play too considering O’Malley’s style.

To Win Fight: Petr Yan (-225)
Total Rounds: Under 2.5 (+162)