UFC 280 is set for the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 22nd. Three fights have been added to the card including a bantamweight bout between Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley.

Yan (16-3) is the former bantamweight champion and this will be his third time fighting in Abu Dhabi. He has won both his previous fights there beating Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen in title bouts.

O’Malley (15-1) 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:

Vacant belt

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.

Welterweight bout

As previously announced Belal Muhammad has been matched with Sean Brady at UFC 281. He was hoping to fight Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 281 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.

Fight island

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.

UFC 281, Abu Dhabi, October 22nd
Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev (For vacant lightweight title)
Aljamain Sterling (c) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (For bantamweight title)
Belal Muhammad vs. Sean Brady (Welterweight)
Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley (Bantamweight)