Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev put on a tremendous display in the main event of Saturday’s card in Abu Dhabi, as he defeated Brazil’s Charles Oliveira to fill the vacant title. Makhachev capped a superlative show by finishing Oliveira via arm-triangle choke submission at the 3:16 mark of the second round.
Makhachev (23-1) took control from the outset, as he dropped Oliveira (33-9) early and spent the rest of the opening round dominating on the ground from top position.
Toward the end of the second round, former champion Oliveira found success in the standup, but Makhachev dropped him with a counter right and pounced. In a shocking twist, he got the tapout from Oliveira, who holds the UFC record for submission wins at 16.
“I trained so hard for this moment, all my life,” said Makhachev, who won his 11th straight bout. “When I was a kid, I was preparing for that moment.”
The co-feature bout was also a title fight, and in this case it was barely a contest. Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling made it look easy in defending his title against two-time former champion T.J. Dillashaw. The champion cruised until the bout was waved off via TKO at 3:44 of the second round.
The Long Island, N.Y., native Sterling (22-3) took it to Denver’s Dillashaw (17-5) from the outset, scoring an early takedown in the opening seconds that popped the challenger’s left shoulder out of his socket as he attempted to break his fall. Sterling then spent the bulk of the round alternating between heavy strikes and tight grappling control on the ground.
Dillashaw’s cornermen managed to pop his shoulder back into place between rounds, but it once again popped out midway through the second round. This time, Sterling looked intent on finishing things, and another takedown led to a ground-and-pound flurry until the bout was mercifully waved off.
Sterling won his eighth straight bout and had his second successful title defence. Dillashaw has dropped two of his past three.