A flyweight bout has been added to UFC 280. Muhammad Mokaev will take on Malcolm Gordon at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 22nd.
Mokaev (8-0-0-1) has made an impressive start to his UFC career winning two fights out of two for the promotion. He went 22-0 as an amateur winning numerous tournaments before turning pro in 2020.
His opponent is a Canadian who has turned his career around with back to back UFC wins. Gordon (14-5) lost his first two fights in the octagon and was knocked out by Su Mudaerji but has turned things around.
According to Mokaev the matchup was originally offered to Jeff Molina who turned down the opportunity to fight him:
Now officially I can say that @jmolina_125 declined the fight, I’m not surprised 🙂
— Muhammad Mokaev (@muhammadmokaev) August 1, 2022
As previously announced the event will be headlined by a lightweight title fight with former champion Charles Oliveira challenging Islam Makhachev for the vacant belt.
Oliveira lost the title on the scales after narrowly missing weight at UFC 274. He was only over by 0.5lbs and went on to beat Justin Gaethje by first round submission to extend his winning streak to 11.
Makhachev comes into this contest on a ten fight winning streak. He is a protege of Khabib Nurmagomedov and would love to follow in his mentor’s footsteps by taking the UFC lightweight belt back to Dagestan.
— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2022
The other fights currently on the card include a bantamweight bout between Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley. The Russian is the former bantamweight champion and this will be his third time fighting in Abu Dhabi.
O’Malley fought to a no contest with Pedro Munhoz at UFC 279 earlier this month. The popular American has been handed a quick turnaround but faces arguably the toughest test of his career against a former bantamweight champion.
Both men have gone back and forth on social media and this will definitely be a grudge match:
Hey pink poodle @SugaSeanMMA , if you win on Saturday and really wanna fight me I dare you to call me out and I will accept it. But if you just wanna make useless noise for hype, stop talking about me, coward 🐩
— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) July 1, 2022
Back and forth
As previously announced Belal Muhammad has been matched with Sean Brady at UFC 280. He was hoping to fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 280 and the two went back and forth a bit on Twitter.
Chimaev declared he would not be willing to face Muhammad if his opponent was representing Palestine and the two seemed to reach an amicable agreement to fight one another in Abu Dhabi. But they are fighters not matchmakers and the UFC decision makes don’t seem to share their enthusiasm for the bout.
Instead #5 ranked Muhammad has been matched with #9 ranked Brady. It represents an opportunity for the latter to crack the top five but certainly won’t serve as the sort of title eliminator which the former is after.
Meanwhile Manon Fiorot is set to face Katlyn Chookagian in a flyweight fight.
Big business here at welterweight. No. 5 vs. No. 9 in the official rankings. Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) vs. Sean Brady (@seanbradymma) is verbally agreed for Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi, per sources. pic.twitter.com/z2DodT19HS
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 8, 2022
During the pandemic the UFC declared that Abu Dhabi was ‘Fight Island’ and in total there have been 16 events held there. The country first hosted a card in 2010 but has emerged as a destination for some of the biggest fights in recent years.
His Palestinian roots make Muhammad a fan favourite in the Middle East. The 33 year old put in one of the best performances of his career there in 2019 when he submitted Takashi Sato in the third round at UFC 242.
Some of the biggest UFC fights of recent years have taken place in Abu Dhabi. Between them Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor have headlined several cards there.