Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
MMA returns to our screens this weekend with arguably the best card of the year for UFC 280.
There are two title fights and an unusual, but more than welcome, early start time to get excited for.
As always, we’ve enlisted UFC expert Bobbie Jackson to get his thoughts on the card.
Main event prediction – Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev
Best bet – Charles Oliveira to win
Saturday’s main event at UFC 280 is one of the most highly-anticipated fights of 2022 with Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev competing for the vacant lightweight title.
Both fighters have very defined styles with Oliveira relying heavily on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background and Makhachev, who is trained by former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, utilising his Sambo wrestling skills to overwhelm rivals.
Oliveira has seen off some strong competition to sit as the #1 ranked fighter in the lightweight division, beating Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje in his last three trips to the octagon.
He did win the title after overcoming Chandler and defended successfully against Poirier but was stripped of the belt after missing weight ahead of his triumph over Gaethje.
In contrast, Makhachev, who is riding a 10-fight win streak, has only faced one top-10-ranked opponent and is yet to be tested against the division’s elite.
Makhachev is happiest when he’s on the canvas and either searching for a submission or using ground and pound to force his rival to go into their shell.
However, he won’t find that easy to do against a high-calibre Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist in the shape of Oliveira and ‘Do Bronx’ should get over the line here.
10/1 UFC 280 accumulator
Aljamain Sterling vs TJ Dillashaw
Best bet – TJ Dillashaw to win
Saturday’s co-main event sees bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, making the second defence of his belt, take on TJ Dillashaw.
Sterling became champion after Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee but he ended any debate over his status by beating the Russian via decision when they ran it back at UFC 273.
‘Funk Master’ is now looking to move on from that rivalry but his time at the top could be brought to an abrupt end when he meets Dillashaw.
Dillashaw has twice held the bantamweight title but he was stripped of his champion status in 2019 after testing positive for a banned substance.
The outcome of this contest depends largely on how the fight plays out with Sterling preferring to control proceedings on the canvas and Dillashaw boasting the stronger striking skills.
Dillashaw’s 86% takedown defence record suggests he should be able to stuff Sterling’s attempts to get this down to the ground and will allow him to unload on the feet.
Petr Yan vs Sean O’Malley
Best bet – Petr Yan to win
Petr Yan was riding a 10-fight win streak before his controversial disqualification defeat to Sterling in March 2021 but he did bounce back to beat Cory Sandhagen.
Yan was handed another loss in his rematch to Sterling and now he faces another stern test when he goes up against Sean O’Malley.
O’Malley is a fan favourite and has steadily worked his way up the bantamweight division after coming through Dana White’s Contender Series.
‘Sugar’ is 15-1 with one no contest after his most recent fight against Pedro Munhoz ended in round two due to an accidental eye poke.
Saturday’s contest undoubtedly offers O’Malley, who has his sights set on a title shot, a huge step up in competition and will give us a better indication as to whether he is one of the elite in the division.
Stylistically, O’Malley is an exciting watch with some fine striking skills and an impressive armoury of kicks to try and cause damage.
However, Yan is a solid striker with a seemingly never-ending gas tank and his brutal combinations should see him wear O’Malley down to win late or possibly via decision.
Beneil Dariush vs Mateusz Gamrot
Best bet – Mateusz Gamrot to win
Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot are closing in on joining the conversation for a lightweight title shot and one of them will take a huge step towards that goal on Saturday.
Dana White has already revealed that featherweight champion Alexander Volkonovski, who is ready to step into Saturday’s main event if either fighter drops out, will be next in line for a lightweight title fight, but a win for Dariush or Gamrot would likely see them needing just one further victory to get the call.
With so much riding on Saturday’s contest, it should be a cracker and the pick here is Poland’s Gamrot as he looks for a fifth successive win.
Gamrot will need to treat Dariush, who has won seven in a row with respect, but he can take confidence from his recent victories over Arman Tsarukyan and Carlos Diego Ferreira.
‘Gamer’ is extremely well-rounded and should have the edge wherever this fight ends up.
Where to watch UFC 280 & what time does it start?
UFC 280 will be broadcast exclusively on BT Sport after they extended their existing partnership, with the event available to watch on BT Sport Box Office, BT Sport 3HD, the BT Sport app and the BT Sport website.
UK coverage of the event, which takes place at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will begin at 5pm on Saturday, 22nd September with the prelim bouts before the main card gets going at around 7pm.
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