UFC 280 Odds, Picks, Projections: Our Best Bets for Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley, Nikita Krylov vs. Volkan Oezdemir (October 22)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Charles Oliveira
- UFC 280 kicks off from Abu Dhabi at 10:30 a.m. ET with a 12-bout lineup and two title fights.
- Below, our MMA crew offers their best bets for the card.
- Among the staff picks is a play on the day's main event between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev.
UFC 280 takes place Saturday in Abu Dhabi, which means the latest UFC pay-per-view begins at a special time of 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT).
The event takes place at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The main card streams on ESPN+ at 10:30 a.m. ET, and the main card is available via ESPN+ pay-per-view for an additional cost beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo's projections below using odds from DraftKings.
Billy Ward: Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Normally I avoid the main event in our Best Bets column. With our main event breakdowns provided by Sean Zerillo, we already cover the topic thoroughly. However, this time it’s simply too good to pass up. “Do Bronx” to (unofficially) retain his title truly is my best bet of the night.
One of the ways I handicap fights is by breaking down the action into three phases. First, there’s the standup/striking element. Next is wrestling, or more generally the ability to dictate where the fight takes place. Finally is the jiu-jitsu or groundwork aspect.
For the most part, the fighter who can win in two of these three aspects wins the fight. If they’re a superior striker and can keep the fight standing, they win that way. If they’re better on the ground and can bring it there, that’s a win, as well. Finally, if they’re better in the striking exchanges and on the mat, it doesn’t much matter where their opponent takes the fight.
That last scenario is how I see this lightweight title fight playing out. I doubt there’s much disagreement that Oliveira is the superior striker here. Makhachev has made strides – and is a step ahead of his friend and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov in that regard at similar points in their careers. Oliveira has excellent muay Thai though, and a far more varied attack.
The more debatable part is the jiu-jitsu or groundwork element. I still favor Oliveira here, though. There’s a reason plenty of excellent wrestlers have avoided going to the ground with him, and many who have ended up getting quickly submitted.
That’s not an easy task against a grappler of Makhachev’s ability, but Oliveira matches up well. His long arms and wide range of neck attacks – guillotines, front chokes, etc – are the perfect antidote to Makhachev’s head-first wrestling style.
I’d take this bet at effectively any plus-money line, though if his moneyline odds move much farther from his +200 inside-the-distance odds, I’d probably pivot to betting the stoppage rather than the win.
The Pick: Charles Oliveira (+160 at Caesars)
Sean Zerillo: Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley
Staff Writer at The Action Network
In a key main-card bout, Yan is the superior fighter in all aspects of MMA, but O'Malley has pronounced advantages in height (4 inches) and reach (five inches). O'Malley may actually be able to pull ahead early on volume.
Still, O'Malley hasn't dealt well with pressure fighters in the past, and once Yan makes his reads, flips the switch, and starts moving forward, O'Malley could be running to avoid trouble. He hasn't fought anyone near this level of competition and may struggle to make the proper adjustments.
O'Malley's power has more of a cumulative effect than a single-shot impact, and when opponents are willing to walk through his reach and get inside of his range, they tend to find success.
Yan should be applying significant pressure by the second round, and I expect him to brutalize O'Malley inside the pocket with his boxing.
There's also O'Malley's history of leg injuries and Yan's likely grappling upside to factor in.
Ultimately, I expect to see a competitive fight for about one round before Yan takes over to a significant degree, and I expect him to find opportunities to finish both on the feet and the mat if he takes it there.
I certainly prefer the violence props here. I see value in his knockout line, but I prefer Yan's inside-the-distance prop (+320). In fact, I would bet that all the way down to +190.
The Pick: Petr Yan inside the distance (+320 at FanDuel)
Dann Stupp: Nikita Krylov vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Senior Editor at The Action Network
I like Nikita Krylov. I like him in this spot, especially. But I'm also approaching this fight and these bets as basically a fade of his opponent, Volkan Oezdemir.
And that's nothing against Oezdemir personally. After all, win or lose – and he's done both, in some truly magnificent ways – Oezdemir has brought jolts of entertainment to UFC fight nights for the past six years.
I just think 33-year-old Oezdemir (18-6) is starting to show some wear and tear whereas Krylov (28-9) hasn't looked nearly as bad as some of his recent results have suggested. The latter is trending up and now finds himself in an advantageous spot heading into UFC 280.
Ultimately, I think Krylov survives an early onslaught and then quickly takes over in this light-heavyweight fight. Oezdemir may be the more technical striker, but Krylov actually has a small but not significant height and reach advantage. I think he's also shown a better ability to use his skills beyond the first round. Oezdemir, meanwhile, seems to crumble and throw together a haphazard game plan once he gets past those initial five minutes.
And if Oezdemir's takedown defense gets shaky, Krylov has a decided edge on the mat too. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the once-notoriously-fast-starter Krylov bides a little time and lets Oezdemir wear himself out on the feet before jumping into takedown attempts.
Ultimately, I think Krylov survives some dangerous exchanges, gets this fight to the canvas, and likely even gets a stoppage via submission or ground and pound. In fact, I'm going with a bouquet of Krylov bets and covering all stoppage types.
The Pick: Nikita Krylov (-170 at Caesars, bet to -190) | Krylov inside the distance (+150 at BetMGM, bet to +110) | Krylov via submission (+370 at BetRivers, bet to +300)