Sat 23-07-2022 20:00 PM
ABU DHABI/LONDON, 23rd July, 2022 (WAM) -- Some of UFC 280's headline fighters have been speaking of their excitement to be performing in Abu Dhabi this October.
UFC 280: OLIVEIRA vs. MAKHACHEV will be the latest event held in the UAE capital as part of a landmark partnership between the world’s premier mixed martial arts organisation, and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).
Fighters appeared at a press conference ahead of UFC FIGHT NIGHT: BLAYDES vs. ASPINALL on Friday as the anticipation builds to one of the most loaded lineups of the year.
The headline bout will see number one ranked lightweight Charles Oliveira taking on Islam Makhachev looking to get his hands back on the lightweight title, after being stripped of the gold due to weight issues ahead of his last fight with Justin Gaethje.
Makhachev, fighting out of Dagestan, is on a 10-fight win streak, and is part of former undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov's team, and will be the crowd favourite in Abu Dhabi, but this doesn't concern the man from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"I am very happy to be going to Abu Dhabi and shutting many mouths," he said. "It will be a pleasure to be a guest at his house, and we will be ready to show what we can do and bring the best result. He is a great fighter with 10 straight wins, but there is a name to the champion - and that's Charles Oliveira."
Sean O'Malley will be fighting outside the USA for the first time when he takes on Petr Yan in the bantamweight division and can't wait to perform in front of the Abu Dhabi crowd.
"I'm very excited to be fighting in Abu Dhabi, I am sure it will be a legendary card and if I can go out there and put Petr's lights out it will be iconic."
The matchup has catapulted O’Malley into the conversation at the very top of the division and he is confident of putting on a show for the UAE fans.
"Pretty much any card I am on is going to be a huge card," he said. "I don't think you can build a card like this without me on it and I am going to be one of the main attractions on it. The Abu Dhabi crowd can expect a very interesting fight with me and Petr, the two best striking bantamweights, they can expect fireworks, and they will get fireworks."
It is a big night in the bantamweight division, with reigning champion Aljamain Sterling defending his title against TJ Dillashaw in the co-main event. O'Malley says a win over Yan, puts him next in line for the title. I think TJ wins that fight - so the winner out of me and Petr definitely gets that title shot."
Belal Muhammad may have been born and raised in Chicago, but his parents are from Palestine, and he received great backing when fighting in the UAE capital in 2019 - he's hoping for more of the same in October.
"I am very excited to be heading back to Abu Dhabi. Last time I was there it was an amazing card, the energy was incredible - they loved me back then and I think there will be even more love this time, I can’t wait."
Muhammad picked up a performance of the night bonus that night, and he's hopeful of a similar performance against fellow American Sean Brady in Abu Dhabi can propel his standing in the welterweight division having not lost in his last eight outings.
"It means everything to have the crowd on my side in Abu Dhabi, they bring me as one of their own and it is going to be amazing. My next fight is always my biggest fight, I have got to win this fight. I want to fight for the title and one more win against an opponent like this, on a card like this, will do wonders for me."