The UFC handed out four post-fight bonuses after Saturday’s card, including one to its new lightweight champion.
After UFC 280, four fighters picked up an extra $50,000 for their performances in Abu Dhabi. Check out the winners below.
Performance of the Night: Belal Muhammad
Oct 22, 2022; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Belal Muhammad (red gloves) defeats Sean Brady (blue gloves) during UFC 280 at Etihad Arena. Mandatory Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Belal Muhammad[/autotag] (22-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) had to work in his featured prelim against Sean Brady (15-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC). He was a slight underdog against the unbeaten Brady, and the two went back and forth for most of nearly two rounds. But late in the second, Muhammad landed a punch that wobbled Brady, and he took advantage. Muhammad kept the pressure on and landed punch after punch while Brady backed up. After a couple dozen punches without anything returned from Brady, the referee jumped in to stop it on the feet.
Performance of the Night: Islam Makhachev
Oct 22, 2022; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Islam Makhachev (blue gloves) celebrates with the title belt after defeating Charles Oliveira (red gloves) during UFC 280 at Etihad Arena. Mandatory Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports
It was predicted for years that [autotag]Islam Makhachev[/autotag] (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) eventually would become a UFC champion. With former lightweight titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov, his training partner of more than 20 years, in his corner, and the memory of Khabib’s father Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov with them, Makhachev submitted former champ Charles Oliveira (33-9 MMA, 21-9 UFC) with a second-round arm-triangle choke to win the vacant 155-pound belt. Oliveira was stripped of the title in May when he missed weight for a title fight against Justin Gaethje. Oliveira is the UFC’s record holder for career submissions, so Makhachev’s finish was poetic justice. The fight wasn’t very competitive. Makhachev dominated Oliveira from start to finish.
Fight of the Night: Sean O'Malley vs. Petr Yan
Oct 22, 2022; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Sean O’Malley (blue gloves) defeats Petr Yan (red gloveS) during UFC 280 at Etihad Arena. Mandatory Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports
[autotag]Sean O’Malley[/autotag] (16-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) had to dig deep, but took a split decision from former bantamweight champion [autotag]Petr Yan[/autotag] (16-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) for the biggest win of his career. O’Malley had a pair of 29-28 scores; a dissenting judge had it 29-28 for Yan. Yan landed six takedowns in the fight, including one late in the third round that many analysts thought would put him over the top for the round. Both fighters landed big punches, but O’Malley may have done a little more damage with his, and after a back-and-forth slugfest may have earned a spot as the next title challenger at 135 pounds.