I am ecstatic to get back to my UFC predictions after posting an 8-3 record last week and anticipating this card. UFC 280 has to be the most hyped-up card in recent memory, for good reason. The events top three fights are all incredible, with Petr Yan going against young stud Sean O’Malley, a Bantamweight championship match between Aljamain Sterling and T.J. Dillashaw, and the main event for the vacant Lightweight championship between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. This card is stacked from top to bottom, so let’s jump right into the prelims.
Fight One: Lina Lansberg (10-6) vs Karol Rosa (15-4)
Winner: Karol Rosa by Decision
To kick off this loaded card, Women’s Bantamweights Lina Lansberg and Karol Rosa square off as both need a win. Over the past few years, Lansberg has had a tough run with back-to-back losses to Sara McMann and Pannie Kianzad and now needs a win to ensure her UFC career continues. Rosa is in a much better spot as she was on a four-fight win streak coming into her last fight against McMann, but unfortunately, that streak was broken. Now she looks to rebound against a struggling Lansberg. It’s always tough to pick between two fighters coming off a loss, but I will take the more well-established Karol Rosa in this one. One key advantage I give to Rosa in this matchup is her age. Especially in a fight that, I believe, will be predominantly stand-up, that age difference will give Rosa the speed advantage to go along with her more versatile striking. For Lansberg to win this fight, I think she will need to take this fight to the ground, and I don’t believe she will have the same success McMann did against Rosa. For that reason, I think Rosa wins a striking battle where she manages the distance and defends against the takedowns of Lansberg, by a decision.
Fight Two: Muhammad Mokaev (7-0) vs. Malcolm Gordon (14-5)
Winner: Muhammad Mokaev by Submission
Next up, we move into the Men’s Flyweight division. The undefeated Muhammad Mokaev will look to defeat Malcolm Gordon on a winning streak of his own. Mokaev is 2-0 since entering the UFC close to seven months ago, with wins over Cody Durden and Charles Johnson. He now looks to make it 3-0 and get a chance to take on a ranked opponent in his next fight with a win in this fight. Gordon has rebounded well from two straight losses to open his career with back-to-back wins as an underdog. Now he looks to prove the oddsmakers wrong again with a win over the heavily favored Mokaev. Unfortunately for Gordon, I don’t think he will continue his winning streak here, as Mokaev will find a way to finish this fight. Although Mokaev did not win by submission, he dominated a fight against a former LFA champion, Charles Johnson, and proved he could be a contender in this division for years to come. Although Gordon poses a challenge to Mokaev as he is an experienced grappler, I believe in Mokaev’s ability to dominate this fight using his superior grappling and stay undefeated.
Fight Three: Armen Petrosyan (6-2) vs. AJ Dobson (6-1)
Winner: Armen Petrosyan by KO/TKO
In the Middleweight division, two Dana White Contender Series alumni, Armen Petrosyan and AJ Dobson, meet inside the octagon. Petrosyan is 1-1 since entering the UFC, coming off a tough loss to Ciao Borralho, and is now looking to regain momentum by handing Dobson his second straight loss. Dobson has other plans for this fight, as he could not defeat Jacob Malkoun in his debut earlier this year and wants to prove he can hang with top-tier fighters by beating Petrosyan. This is a fight with great potential, as both fighters are impressive strikers and will likely be looking to finish this fight by knockout. In his last fight, Petrosyan was dominated by Borralho, but it was due to Borralho’s wrestling, which is not what Dobson is best at. Dobson has over Petrosyan’s five-inch reach advantage. Still, because of Dobson’s excellent footwork, I believe that Petrosyan will be able to move away from the strikes of Dobson. I could see Dobson coming and executing from a distance early, but in his fight against Malkoun, he proved he lacks high-level cardio, which is how I think Petrosyan wins this fight. After Dobson slows, Petrosyan will use his excellent kickboxing to outpoint Dobson in round two before closing the fight in round three by knockout.
Fight Four: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1)
Winner: Abubakar Nurmagomedv by Decision
Next up, two Russian Welterweights go toe-to-toe, looking for a win in the octagon. Nurmagomedov enters this fight 1-1 in the UFC and is keeping his streak alive of fighting every 17 months. He made his debut two years and 10 months ago with a loss to David Zawada and a year and five months ago defeated Jared Gooden. Now a year and five months later, he goes against Omargadzhiev. After coming off a submission win at Dana White’s Contender Series over Jansey Silva, Omargadzhiev lost his debut and undefeated record to Caio Borralho, but now has his sights set on defeating Nurmagomedov. In a fight that the public seems to be very split on, I am reasonably confident in Nurmagomedov. I went back and re-watched these two fighters’ last contests, and Nurmagomedov looked like the better fighter. Nurmagomedov is the more well-rounded fighter and holds a clear advantage in the striking department over Omargadzhiev. Nurmagomedov has also shown in the past, especially early in his career, that he is a competitive grappler, so I think that Omargadzhiev will have difficulty finding a way to control this fight. Overall, I believe that Nurmagomedov will keep this fight standing for the majority and land more strikes on his way to a decision victory.
Fight Five: Volkan Oezdemir (18-6) vs Nikita Krylov (28-9)
Winner: Volkan Oezdemir by Decision
To show just how stacked this card is, we have a matchup between two ranked Flyweights, Volkan Oezdemir and Nikita Krylov, who are looking to take on the challenge of a top-five opponent. After suffering back-to-back losses, Oezdemir rebounded nicely with a win over Paul Craig and now looks to make it two wins in a row against Krylov. Like his opponent, Krylov also bounced back with a win after losing back-to-back fights, with his victory coming from a dominant TKO over Alexander Gustafsson, and now looks to do the same over Oezdemir. A few minor details I’d like to bring up for this matchup that starts with the losses of Oezdemir. In his last five fights, Oezdemir is 3-2, with his losses coming to the now heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka and possibly the next title challenger, Magomed Ankalaev; two losses can’t be held against Oezdemir to a high degree. Oezdemir also came out and defeated Paul Craig in his last appearance, which is someone that Krylov lost to six months ago. I also think that the win Krylov had over Gustafsson spoke more about Gustafsson’s decline than Krylov’s skills. I was very impressed with Oezdemir’s takedown defense in his matchup with Craig, which leads me to believe he will be able to defend against takedown attempts from Krylov. This would allow for the fight to stay primarily on its feet, which would give the advantage to Oezdemir and allow him to out-strike Krylov on his way to a victory.
Fight Six: Makhmud Muradov (25-7) vs Caio Borralho (12-1)
Winner: Caio Borralho by Decision
In the Middleweight division, two potential future top 15 contenders in the division, Makhmud Muradov and Caio Borralho, square off, looking to impress once more. Muradov entered the UFC three years ago and came in hot and started 3-0, but unfortunately, he was submitted by Gerald Meerscharet last year and looks to return to his winning ways. After winning in Dana White’s Contender Series, Borralho is 2-0 since entering the UFC and has looked impressive thus far. This is a very intriguing matchup between fighters with contrasting styles, which can either make for an exhilarating fight or 15 minutes of a feeling-out process where neither fighter wants to make a mistake. I don’t believe Borralho will let that happen in this particular contest, and he will take the fight to Muradov. What I think this fight comes down to is skill set disparity. Muradov is a great boxer who presents a legitimate threat on the feet, but lacks the ground skills to compete with a grappler like Borralho. Although I give the striking advantage to Muradov, Borralho can hold his own until he gets the fight to the ground. Once Borralho has Muradov down, this fight will look like Borralho’s bout with Armen Petrosyan, where dominant control time will win him the fight.