UFC 280 saw Islam Makhachev become the new lightweight champion when he submitted Charles Oliviera in the second round.
Islam has lurked in the legendary Khabib Nurmagomedov’s shadow for much of his career. Following Khabib’s retirement, the former champion declared that Islam would inevitably capture the belt. Islam indeed continued to dominate every contender the UFC put in front of him. Even so, fans and top contenders dismissed his resume and questioned the level of his competition. They felt that Charles was a much tougher opponent than any Islam had faced before.
Fans were excited to see how Islam’s wrestling would clash with Charles’s jiu jitsu. Many considered Charles to have a clear striking advantage, and expected a grappling heavy fight. While no one up until this fight had an answer for Islam’s wrestling, Charles’s submissions were an interesting challenge.
When the fight began, Islam quickly made a statement by landing several strong blows on the feet. He immediately changed the narrative regarding the striking, and avoided Charles’s submission attempts as well. Islam secure top position and landed solid ground and pound in the first round.
Charles showed resilience throughout the fight. He pressured aggressively on the feet and landed good strikes in the clinch. He also showed impressive grappling defense and proved difficult to take down. Islam, however, landed a powerful counter in the second round that floored Oliviera. Unlike Charles’s previous opponents, Islam had no fear of Charles’s grappling prowess on the mat. He quickly capitalized on the moment and locked up an arm triangle, forcing Charles to tap.
Amidst all the doubt regarding his strength of schedule, Islam proved himself as the best lightweight in the world. He fought a dangerous champion in his prime and dominated him in all facets of mixed martial arts. Once known primarily as Khabib’s understudy, he now begins his own championship reign.
On the other side, Oliviera is far from done. While Islam dominated him, Charles can still defeat many of the world’s top lightweights. As Islam prepares for a superfight with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, Charles will look to regroup against another top contender. The UFC’s lightweight division has just entered into an exciting new era.