Dominick Cruz: Charles Oliveira has best chance to finish, but Islam Makhachev wins if it’s a decision

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Dominick Cruz doesn’t see Charles Oliveira beating Islam Makhachev if he can’t finish him.

Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) faces Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) for the vacant lightweight title in the main event of UFC 280, which takes place Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi.

In an intriguing stylistic matchup that pits the UFC’s all-time leader in submission wins against arguably the best grappler in the sport, Cruz thinks Oliveira likely will have to get an early finish if he wants to get his hand raised.

“I think that Oliveira has the best chance to finish the fight, so in the first three rounds I think he can finish it,” Cruz said on his Instagram. “But if it goes the distance, I think Makhachev wins it because he has the best chance of winning a decision.”

It took Oliveira less than three rounds each to finish Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. Makhachev has been on a finishing spree himself, taking out his past four opponents. Neither man has ever gone five rounds, but Cruz, a former UFC bantamweight champ and current commentator, thinks Makhachev’s path to victory will depend on his ability to fend off Oliveira’s submissions.

“In the early days of (Oliveira’s) career, the way he would lose, you would defend his submissions and keep him on his back and ride the clock and ground and pound, or land big shots on the feet, then take him down and then not get submitted,” Cruz said. “If you could survive the onslaught of his ground game, then you could ride him out to a decision. So if it goes five rounds, I think Makhachev has the style to stay out of the submissions, stay on top, and blanket Oliveira and shut down a lot of his submission game.

“But the thing that’s making Oliveira so dangerous right now is since he’s moved up, he’s put a huge frame on, and he’s very strong with his striking. He’s got the perfect style because he doesn’t care about takedowns. So he can commit 100 percent to knees and elbows and long, straight punches and just walk and march forward. So when you try and take him down, he doesn’t really care so he can strike with different recklessness than he used to. In the past, he used to try to stop takedowns and now he doesn’t. He accepts them by committing 100 percent to his striking. So finish ability, I give to Oliveira, decision I give to Makhachev.”

Oliveira vs. Makhachev: Method of victory? - Powered By PickUp

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie