UFC 280: Islam Makhachev becomes new lightweight king after making Charles Oliveira tap out

Islam Makhachev dropped and submitted former champion Charles Oliveira to capture the vacant 155-pound lightweight title at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, with his coach, friends, and retired lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner.

Clearly the fan favorite, Makhachev was the first to emerge from the shadow of his legendary mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov and establish himself as an athlete, a fighter, and ultimately a legend in his contemporary era.

Makhachev clinched the championship on Saturday at UFC 280 after submitting the great Charles Oliveira at 3:16 of the second round.

The fight between Oliveira and Islam Makhachev wasn’t the back-and-forth madness we’ve come to anticipate from Islam Makhachev’s fight; however, it was exhilarating.

Did it reach the heights as fans anticipated?

Islam Makhachev: The New Lightweight King!

Makhachev dominated the bout from the start, landing powerful strikes on the feet and securing an early takedown. Oliveira, the UFC’s all-time submissions leader, was threatened with a few submission attempts but was unable to secure anything due to Makhachev’s superior positioning.

When Oliveira actually grasped the guard and brought the fight to the ground during the opening exchange, Makhachev caught him with a sharp left hand. While Makhachev was suffocating with his control on top, Oliveira was quick to attack with submissions off his back.

Makhachev was careful to keep close to Oliveira in order to avoid the jiu-jitsu specialist’s usually active legs as he swiveled his hips in search of an armbar or a triangle choke. While Makhachev continued to hammer Oliveira on the ground, he couldn’t find an opening.

When the fight returned to the feet, Makhachev was quick to cover the distance, despite appearing totally at ease trading shots with Oliveira.

In an attempt to reverse his fortunes, Oliveira burst forward with a jumping knee, but Makhachev responded with a massive hook that sent the former champion flying to the ground.

Makhachev rushed on Oliveira as soon as he touched the ground and began hunting for the finish. Makhachev locked in an arm-triangle choke, and it only took Oliveira a split second to tap out as the UFC’s all-time submissions leader fell to the Russian wrestler.

With the triumph, Makhachev extended his winning streak to 11 and fulfilled his coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s prediction that he would become champion once Khabib retired. 

Following the fight, Makhachev handed Khabib his belt as a tribute to the Nurmagomedovs’ contributions to his career and title triumph. “My belt for my coach for Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. He said to train hard and you’re going to be champion. [Khabib’s] father made me.” Makhachev said. 

“I trained so hard for this moment,” Makhachev said afterward. “I want to say thank you. I always think this is not going to be an easy fight. He (Oliveira) always pushes opponents but I know he’s going to be scared of my wrestling skills. I said this is my goal and Allah give me.” 

Later in the fight, Makhachev, along with coach and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov, summoned featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski to the ring to make an official challenge to face him for the lightweight title in Australia. Before the two champions shook hands, Volkanovski accepted the challenge.

So, what will happen to the new champion? Nurmagomedov jumped on the mic after the fight to share some ideas, so we’ll let him tell the story.

“Now it’s our plan to fly all the way to Australia and fight the pound-for-pound king Alex Volkanovski,” Nurmagomedov said. “You know we’re going to finish this guy.” 

Makhachev can be sure of his place in the MMA hierarchy, even without his friend and mentor Nurmagomedov. This is because he just beat perhaps the best finisher in the history of the sport.



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