UFC 280 best bets, predictions: Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley, Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw among top picks



petr yan sean omalley

The UFC has loaded the card for UFC 280 on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, putting together a tremendous lineup of fights that promises a lot of action. The event is headlined by a pair of world title fights as Charles Oliveira looks to recapture the lightweight championship he lost on the scales in May when he faces Islam Makhachev.

In addition to the wild main event, the co-feature also sees a title on the line in a matchup sure to grab fan’s eyes. Bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling is set to take on former titleholder TJ Dillashaw. It will be Sterling’s second defense of the 135-pound title and first since his two-fight series with Petr Yan. Dillashaw is back after undergoing knee surgery in 2021 and serving a two-year USADA suspension that cost him the title.

Elsewhere, Yan is also back in action when he takes on rising contender Sean O’Malley. “Suga” is looking to enter the title picture against his toughest competition to date. Another bout between potential contenders is also on the main card when Matuesz Gamrot takes on Beneil Dariush at lightweight. Plus, welterweight contenders Belal Muhammad and Sean Brady are set to throw down in the featured prelim bout with plenty at stake.

Every big UFC card draws plenty of attention at the sportsbooks, but a card as big as UFC 280 will likely have even more people than usual looking to make a wager or two. With that in mind, we have you covered with our picks for the best bet on each main card fight with odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

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Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev

Pick: Over 1.5 rounds (-175) — Makhachev is the favorite for a reason, but how do you bet against the modern version of Oliveira? Makhachev and Oliveira are both good finishers and both have a history of finishing fights before the middle point of the second round. However, stylistically, this is a fight that doesn’t play directly into a quick finish. If Makhachev scores an early takedown, he’ll still have to be very responsible defensively to not get caught by Oliveira’s slick submissions. Likewise, Oliveira can’t wildly throw up submissions that allow Makhachev to advance his position. Outside of Oliveira getting a quick stoppage on the feet — which is possible — it will take until later in the fight before either attrition or a mistake leads to the finish.

Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw

Pick: Fight to go the distance: Yes (-180)  Simple facts go into this one. Sterling has been finished once, which came as he leaned in for a takedown as Marlon Moraes threw a kick and Moraes’ knee caught him on the chin. Dillashaw’s two stoppage losses came by knockout, but Sterling has not stopped anyone by KO or TKO in more than eight years. This will be a very good chess match, but the odds of it going to a decision seem higher than the -180 line.

Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley 

Pick: Yan by decision (-105) O’Malley has loads of talent, but he has a tendency to be hesitant against higher-level competition. It’s understandable that O’Malley doesn’t demonstrate the same level of flash against better fighters as he did against lower-level opposition but when you take away higher output and flashy attacks, he looks a lot more human. O’Malley has also shown susceptibility to leg kicks, which is a good tool for Yan and one he’ll need to use given his height disadvantage. In a three-round fight, O’Malley can’t afford to give up any rounds and Yan’s more natural aggression at the higher levels will serve him well, though a finish is unlikely.

Beneil Dariush vs. Mateusz Gamrot

Pick: Dariush ML (+165) This is the kind of fight where the natural recommendation is to just give this fight a pass due to a few too many factors that cause uncertainty. Dariush has not fought since May 2021, which is a concerning time to be out of action before returning to face someone as talented as Gamrot. Still, if you were going to make a play on this fight, going with Dariush, who is the better striker and a capable enough wrestler and grappler to hang with Gamrot if the fight gets to those areas, makes sense. He’s a solid value underdog pick even if Gamrot has a lot of momentum coming off his June main event win over Arman Tsarukyan.

Manon Fiorot vs. Katlyn Chookagian 

Pick: Fiorot ML (-210)  Fiorot is simply a bad opponent for Chookagian. One look at the UFC Stats page for this fight tells you all you need to know. Fiorot lands more strikes at a higher accuracy while also averaging nearly two takedowns per 15 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Chookagian’s takedown defense is a fairly awful 54%. Barring either woman suddenly flipping their entire fighting style, this is an easy call for Fiorot.

Who wins Oliveira vs. Makhachev? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 280, all from the incomparable expert who’s up more than $13,000 on MMA in the past three-plus years, and find out. 

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