5 reasons why Charles Oliveira will beat Islam Makhachev at UFC 280
This October will see one of the biggest MMA events in recent memory in the form of UFC 280, and in the headline bout, Charles Oliveira will face Islam Makhachev with the lightweight title on the line.
With both Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev on fantastic winning streaks right now, this promises to be a fantastic fight – but who will come out on top?
The likely outcome, despite Makhachev’s exceptional talent, is that ‘Do Bronx’ will pull off a victory and reclaim the lightweight crown that he never actually lost in the octagon.
Here are five reasons why Charles Oliveira will beat Islam Makhachev at UFC 280.
#5. Charles Oliveira will be under less pressure than Islam Makhachev
Any fighter competing in a UFC title bout will naturally feel plenty of pressure. After all, fighting for gold inside the octagon means that a fighter has reached close to the very top of the mountain, and one more push will put them on the summit.
However, it’s probably arguable that at UFC 280, Islam Makhachev will have more pressure on his shoulders than Charles Oliveira.
Sure, ‘Do Bronx’ will probably be desperate to regain the title that he was never actually defeated for. Makhachev, though, has a different kind of pressure on him.
Not only is he on a fantastic win streak in his own right – he’s won 10 bouts in a row dating back to late 2016 – but he’s also widely considered the heir to former champ Khabib Nurmagomedov’s throne.
Thus far, the Dagestani has not struggled to live up to the lofty standards set by his teammate and mentor. In a title fight, though, the pressure to do what ‘The Eagle’ did, and whitewash his opponent, will be immense.
Whether Makhachev can handle that pressure remains to be seen, but it’s fair to suggest that Oliveira will have less weighing down on him coming into the fight, giving him a potential advantage.
#4. Charles Oliveira is remarkably durable these days
A veteran of the octagon dating back to 2010, Charles Oliveira has always been recognized as a massively talented fighter. However, the knock on him in the past was always that he was somewhat fragile and was unable to absorb punishment.
Prior to his recent unbeaten run, which dates back to mid-2018, ‘Do Bronx’ fell to defeat on eight occasions in the octagon. Just one of those bouts, his loss to Frankie Edgar in 2013, went the distance. Overall, the Brazilian suffered four losses by KO or TKO and four by submission.
In more recent years, though, Oliveira has become far more durable. In fact, based on his most recent bouts in the octagon, it’s probably fair to label him one of the toughest fighters in the lightweight division.
‘Do Bronx’ has survived absolutely hellacious punishment from some of the hardest hitters on the planet in his last three bouts, bouncing back from knockdowns against Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje and absorbing some huge shots from Dustin Poirier.
Essentially then, if Islam Makhachev was expecting to be able to run right through Oliveira as he might’ve done five or six years ago, he’s probably painfully mistaken. To put ‘Do Bronx’ away these days will take something almost superhuman – and whether the Dagestani is capable of that is a major question mark.
#3. Charles Oliveira has the ability to outgrapple and submit Islam Makhachev
There’s absolutely no denying that Islam Makhachev is a truly fantastic grappler. Not only does he possess the same kind of powerful, stifling wrestling game that made his teammate and mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov so dominant, but he’s an excellent submission artist in his own right too.
Sure, many of his finishes in the octagon have come over fighters more known for their striking than their grappling, with Dan Hooker, Drew Dober and Bobby Green all coming to mind in this sense.
However, he’s also outgrappled Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Thiago Moises, submitting him with a rear-naked choke, and outscrambled the very tricky Arman Tsarukyan, whose wrestling is tremendous in its own right.
Against Charles Oliveira, though, there’s a chance that even Makhachev could be in over his head. Put simply, ‘Do Bronx’ is on a level of his own when it comes to submission skills inside the octagon.
The Brazilian has submitted a total of 16 foes during his UFC career, making him the most prolific tapout artist in the promotion’s history. That puts him ahead of legends such as Royce Gracie, Demian Maia and Frank Mir.
More to the point, even if Oliveira can’t outwrestle Makhachev in their fight, he’s just as deadly on his back as he is from top position, as no fewer than 10 of his submission victories in the octagon came after he’d either been taken down or been forced into a scramble.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Makhachev has never been submitted during his own MMA career, but if anyone can do it, it’s ‘Do Bronx’ – and the fact that he has that kind of skillset should make him the favorite in this bout.
#2. Charles Oliveira’s striking has become deadly
If Charles Oliveira were a one-dimensional fighter who only carried a threat with his submissions and grappling, then it’d probably be fair to favour Islam Makhachev to win this bout. After all, the Dagestani probably has the wrestling skills to prevent Oliveira from taking him down if he wishes.
However, while it was probably fair back in 2011 to consider ‘Do Bronx’ little more than a grappler, today, he’s one of the best-rounded fighters in the lightweight division. More the point, his striking now looks just as deadly as his grappling.
It seems hard to believe, but prior to 2019, the Brazilian had never actually stopped an opponent in the octagon with strikes. However, since his first knockout, which came against Nik Lentz that May, he hasn’t looked back.
Not only has he knocked out both Jared Gordon and Michael Chandler in the time that’s followed, but he was also able to drop Justin Gaethje, a fighter renowned for his iron chin, in their recent clash before finishing him with a rear-naked choke.
Makhachev isn’t a bad striker by any means, but it’s probably fair to suggest that even if he’s as technically proficient as Oliveira on the feet, he doesn’t possess the Brazilian’s knockout power.
When you also consider that his only loss came via knockout – at the hands of Adriano Martins in late 2015 – it’s not really a stretch to suggest that ‘Do Bronx’ will have an advantage in the striking department in this fight and is more than capable of knocking Makhachev out.
#1. Charles Oliveira has far more experience in big fights than Islam Makhachev
One major advantage that Charles Oliveira will have over Islam Makhachev in this upcoming bout is the fact that he’s been involved in far more big fights than the Dagestani has.
Not only has ‘Do Bronx’ headlined a total of four UFC events, but he’s also fought in three title bouts, defeating Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. To add to this, he holds a win over a former interim lightweight champion in Tony Ferguson, as well as another title challenger in Kevin Lee.
In contrast, while Makhachev has headlined two events thus far into his UFC career, neither were big pay-per-view main events, and neither came against the level of opposition that Oliveira has faced recently.
In fact, Bobby Green, who Makhachev defeated in February in his most recent trip to the octagon, was not ranked in the lightweight division’s top 15 prior to the bout.
When you consider this gap in experience, it’s hard not to favor ‘Do Bronx’ in this clash. Sure, he’s never gone into the fourth round of a fight, as Makhachev did against Thiago Moises in 2021, but he’s faced the tougher opponents, beaten better fighters, and is more at home in big pay-per-view headliners.
With that considered, if either man is likely to choke under the glare of the spotlight in this bout, it’s more likely to be Makhachev – making Oliveira the favorite to come out on top.