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UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Makhachev

October 22, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (236-127-2) – 65% Correct

Main Event Record (21-9) – 70% Correct

Prelim Predictions:

WBW: #9 Karol Rosa (15-4) vs. #12 Lina Lansberg (10-6)

  • Pick: Karol Rosa

FLY: Muhammad Mokaev (8-0, 1 NC) vs. Malcolm Gordon (14-5)

  • Pick: Muhammad Mokaev

MW: Armen Petrosyan (7-2) vs. AJ Dobson (6-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Armen Petrosyan

WW: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3-1) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1)

  • Pick: Abubakar Nurmagomedov

FW: Zubaira Tukhugov (20-5-1) vs. Lucas Almeida (14-1)

  • Pick: Lucas Almeida

LHW: #8 Volkan Oezdemir (18-6) vs. #10 Nikita Krylov (28-9)

  • Pick: Nikita Krylov

MW: Makhmud Muradov (25-7) vs. Caio Borralho (12-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Caio Borralho 

WW: #5 Belal Muhammad (21-3, 1 NC) vs. #8 Sean Brady (15-0)

  • Pick: Belal Muhammad *Dawg of the Week*

Main Card Predictions:

WFLY: #1 Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) vs. #6 Manon Fiorot (9-1)

  • Pick: Manon Fiorot (-180)
  • Quick Reasoning: Easily one of my favorite female fighters on the rise, Fiorot has looked exceptional in her first four UFC fights. Landing 6.6 strikes per minute against 2.52 absorbed, Fiorot has been impressive, although against lesser competition in the flyweight division. The pick here is not only because of her solid work on the feet, but because of her ability to takedown her opponents, something that Chookagian has had difficulty defending from time to time with a 54% defense rating. Chookagian will come in as the larger-sized fighter, but she had difficulty in utilizing her size advantage in her victory over Amanda Ribas, where she was controlled for nearly ⅓ of the fight after giving up three takedowns on six attempts. One last reasoning is that Chookagian barely breaks even in terms of striking, landing 4.56 and absorbing 4.26 strikes per minute in the octagon. I could tell after watching Fiorot live in Columbus that she might be the fighter – outside of Taila Santos – that can give Shevchenko a run for her money down the road. Give me Fiorot by UD or late-round TKO. 

LW: #6 Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) vs. #9 Mateusz Gamrot (21-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Mateusz Gamrot (-195) *STAY AWAY FROM THE MONEYLINE*
  • Quick Reasoning: This is an incredibly high stakes fight for the LW division. With Volkanovski likely getting the next crack at the LW title, it looks like whoever wins this matchup will get a number-one contender fight, potentially against the winner of Chander/Poirier. Beneil has been inactive for nearly a year and a half, so I’m not really excited about that. At least Elon Musk finally got him his car shortly after dominating Tony Ferguson in May 2021. These guys are both ballers, with Gamrot serving as a takedown-heavy action fighter and Dariush playing the role as a low-output and control-heavy fighter that takes minimal damage in each fight. Both look for the finish, so this should be a very entertaining fight. However, I’m banking on there being at least four takedowns in this fight, as the two have landed 18 combined in their past two bouts. Gamrot even took down Arman Tsarukyan six times in their main event, which I personally thought Arman won, becoming the only other UFC fighter besides Islam Makhachev to takedown Tsarukyan at least once. I’d give Dariush the advantage on the feet based on his ability to limit damage taken, but I believe Gamrot will get Beneil to the ground a handful of times in this one. Gamrot averages nearly five takedowns per 15-minute fight, and he’ll most definitely have the gas tank to work in an attempt any chance he gets. I wouldn’t bet either fighter, but I give Gamrot a slight edge in what will eventually be a toss-up fight until the bell rings. Gamrot by UD or ground-and-pound TKO is my pick in this one. Don’t count out the streaking Dariush though, as these odds could very easily be favored the other way. 

BW: #1 Petr Yan (16-3) vs. #11 Sean O’Malley (15-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Petr Yan (-305) *Lock of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: This is just too much for O’Malley to chew. Although both fights with solid opponents – Chito Vera and Pedro Munhoz – ended in stoppage, he has yet to prove himself against a top contender with his time in the octagon. This is an insane leap for Sean and I’m shocked the odds are not further apart. Even though Yan is known to some as a slower starter, he should be able to put the pressure on O’Malley early with leg kicks similar to Munhoz. He’ll even have the opportunity to utilize a solid ground game, something that Sean hasn’t had to deal too much with this far into his career. Other than his last fight with Sterling, Yan has made light work out of a majority of his UFC opponents. I’d compare this fight to his fight with Sandhagen, who I also believe is a much better fighter at this point than O’Malley. O’Malley has the larger frame that serves as advantageous against any BW, but Cory Sandhagen’s is the best comparison and Yan was able to outwork Sandhagen for a vast majority of that fight. With some lower body attacks and threatening takedown attempts, I think Yan should pull off a UD. O’Malley is likely to win the first round, but if he starts slow like he did with Munhoz then this will be a tough one to pull off. Even though O’Malley has an amazing striking differential and offers plenty of volume, this one might just be too big of a leap for the Suga Show. Give me a very technical performance from Yan via UD or third-round TKO if he compromises O’Malley early.

BW: *CHAMPION* Aljamain Sterling (21-3) vs. #2 TJ Dillashaw (18-4)

  • Pick: Aljamain Sterling (-170)
  • Quick Reasoning: People choosing Dillashaw might say that it’s because Sterling isn’t good on the feet, either because Marlon Moraes KO’d him early into their fight or because of a poor performance against Yan in their first matchup. Sterling has a better strike landed/strike absorbed ratio than Dillashaw at over 2:1, and has been a knightmare for his opponents with his ground game as of late. Sterling was able to cinch up a pair of body locks against Yan in his last fight that led him to defend – or earn in this case – his gold. I’m still going to complain about it because I can, but I thought Sandhagen beat Dillashaw 3-2 at a minimum. But my reasoning for this pick isn’t out of spite, as I don’t think either are the best in their division. This pick is because of a mix of ring-rust and the leaps Sterling has made since his first Yan title fight. Aljamain went from P3 guy, to clown emojis, to gaining my respect after displaying his ability to hold Petr Yan against his will. His ground work and striking approved tenfold in that fight, which I think makes him dangerous for Dillashaw. Essentially, the ground game slightly favors Sterling or is nullified between the two. The standup is better for Sterling due to his ability to minimize opponent volume, but Dillashaw does have a solid output and was able to land 110 strikes against Sandhagen. With only one fight since January 2019, I’m not too sure if Dillashaw is ready to climb up a few more rungs on the BW ladder against an opponent like Sterling. We know what we’re getting with Sterling at this stage, but the uncertainties for Dillashaw and improvements from Aljamain are swaying me more towards the champions side. I’m picturing a late-round finish from in this one, but the most realistic feels like Sterling by UD. 

LW: #1 Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC) vs. #4 Islam Makhachev (22-1)

  • Pick: Charles Oliveira (+155) *UNLIKE ME, DON’T BET THE MONEYLINE*
  • Quick Reasoning: Be warned, I am biased going into this one, but Charles has upset his opponents against the odds over and over again. I’m extremely worried about him facing someone that could put up a great test on the ground with him, but he has proven he belongs up there with the best of the division so far. Regardless of the losses early into his UFC career, what matters is his fighting game now. Like in Islam’s TKO loss early into his UFC tenure, both fighters have battled and grown in the adversity they’ve faced. However, Islam’s recent string of victories has been shown in dominance over the low-end of the LW division. It’s not a complete knock against Makhachev, as he’s been strung into bad luck and opponent cancellations that would’ve placed him against RDA and Beneil Dariush for true #1 contender fights. Although Islam might not have that upper-tier resume outside of his victory over Arman Tsarukyan, he’s done nothing but prove he belongs at the top. His 0.84 strikes absorbed per minute is insanely low, which is often led by his ability to find top control on his opponents with a 3.41 takedown average per 15 minutes. Not many people can scramble on the ground with Islam, but Charles may just be the UFC veteran who can finally mix his striking and grappling to give Makhachev the challenge we’ve been waiting for. Oliveira has already shown he can take some punishment in the striking battles with Chandler, Gaethje, and Poirier, but how will he fare against a proven wrestler/control-position opponent like Islam? I think it will take some risk-taking for Charles, which he’s not afraid to do by entering into clinch and muay thai kneeing positions that he uses very effectively. If he gets taken down to the ground, I do believe he’ll fare much better than the likes of Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker, and Bobby Green. Makhachev will most likely welcome those ground positions if Charles decides to turtle himself on the ground, as he deploys a very nice ground-and-pound when able. Overall, I see Charles as the better striker who will take some punishment in this fight, but he will continue to bend and not break as the fight goes on. Expect Charles to start out firing early and controlling the pace for an early finish, but if he can’t get this done then it may be the changing of the guard for LW division as we know it. My pick in this one is Charles by TKO in the first couple rounds, but Islam winning by finish is very realistic as well. This fight may be a sign of the future of the LW’s, as those like Makhachev, Tsarukyan, Gamrot, Ismagulov, and Guram will be taking the reigns very soon. I’m genuinely more nervous about Charles making weight more than anything else, but if everything is good to go by Saturday then we will be in for a very special fight. Charles by finish, but he’s also been finished in 7 of 8 losses, so bank on this to not go the distance. 

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (6-8): Belal Muhammad ML
      • 0.5u
    • Lock of the Week (5-1): Petr Yan ML
      • 3u
    • And new-ish: Oliveira ML
      • 1.4u
  • Parlay Bet:
    • Barralho, Mokaev, Sterling ML’s
      • 0.5u
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