UFC broadcaster Daniel Cormier said Saturday that Islam Makhachev had spent a tidy $1 million on his training camp to prepare for his lightweight title fight at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in the main event of UFC 280.
It turned out to be fantastically well-spent money.
Makhachev dominated Oliveira from start to finish and ended the fight at 3:16 of the second round with an arm triangle. Oliveira, the former champion who was stripped of the belt at UFC 273 for missing weight, tapped quickly to begin the celebration on the Makhachev side.
Makhachev leaped into the arms of his former teammate, long-time friend, ex-lightweight champion and now-coach Khabib Nurmagomedov when it ended. He later dedicated the belt to Nurmagomedov’s late father, Abdulmanap, who was their coach, and presented the belt to Khabib.
“I trained so hard for this moment,” Makhachev said. “All my life, from when I was a kid, I was preparing for this moment. I want to say thank you.”
Makhachev started out quickly, opening the fight with a left hook to the chin just seconds in that dropped Oliveira. And in the fight-ending sequence, Oliveira leaped to throw a knee, but Makhachev grazed him with a left and then dumped him with a crushing right.
Oliveira was on his back and Makhachev followed him down to get the finish.
Nurmagomedov, his mentor, had predicted upon his retirement that Makhachev would follow him as lightweight champion and that Makhachev would be the lightweight champion of the world.
He was emotional as he spoke about it.
“All our lives, we trained together, 22 years,” Nurmagomedov said. “Twenty-two years! I told you guys Islam Makhachev is the best fighter in the world, not just lightweight. He’s the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.”
Makhachev then taunted featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who served as the backup for the fight. Makhachev said, “I don’t see the short guy. Bring him here.” He said he wanted to fly to Australia to fight in Volkanovski’s homeland at UFC 284 in February. Volkanovski entered the Octagon and agreed.
It will make for a massive fight.
“Everything on the line, the pound-for-pound championship of the world, on the line,” Volkanovski said. “Let’s do it.”
Oliveira made a plea to UFC president Dana White for a rematch, but that’s likely to fall on deaf ears.
Asked by Cormier how he felt, Oliveira’s disappointment was obvious.
“You’re a fighter; you know what it’s like,” Oliveira said to Cormier. “Sometimes, we’re here and it’s not our day, but I promise you, I’m going to get this [belt] back.”