Russia's Islam Makhachev dethrones Brazil's Charles Oliveira, the man who had previously been considered the lightweight king, via a second-round arm triangle choke.
Islam Makhachev has pulled off a sensational submission win over Charles Oliveira to win the lightweight title and Aljamain Sterling beat TJ Dillashaw by TKO to claim the bantamweight belt at UFC 280 at the Etihad Arena.
Russia's Makhachev capped his ascent to the lightweight throne on Saturday with a brilliant win by arm triangle choke against Brazilian Oliveira, the holder of the UFC record for submission wins with 16.
Oliveira was stripped of the lightweight belt in May when he missed the weight for his title clash with Justin Gaethje and though he beat the American the title remained vacant, setting up the showdown with Makhachev.
After spending much of the first round defending and trying to threaten with submissions off his back, Oliveira tried to keep the fight on the feet in the second round.
That tactic looked like it was paying off until he was decked by a punch from Makhachev, who wasted no time jumping on his opponent, locking in the choke and forcing the tap for Oliveira.
Russia's Islam Makhachev is crowned UFC Lightweight Champion after beating Brazil's Charles Oliveira in Abu Dhabi fight pic.twitter.com/6axa123xpq— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) October 22, 2022
After the fight, jubilant Makhachev said: "First, I have to say I always ask God and he gives me always more than I ask. Alhamdulillah."
Makhachev dedicated the win to his late coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, who died in 2020, saying: "Many years ago he told me just train hard and I will be champion", before handing the belt to Khabib Nurmagomedov who took over from his father as the Russian's coach and is himself a former UFC lightweight champion.
His 11th submission win moves the 31-year-old Makhachev on to a record of 23 wins and one loss as a pro.
READ MORE: Khabib, Islam, and the making of a UFC Champion
HE SAID HE WOULD DO IT AND HE DID IT! 🤯— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) October 22, 2022
Islam Makhachev submits the greatest finisher in UFC history 🙌@makhachevmma and @teamkhabib bring the belt home to Dagestan! 🏆#UFC280 | BT Sport Box Office pic.twitter.com/ePPDsdVvKm
In the co-main event Dillashaw, who had to give up the belt and serve a two-year suspension after testing positive for EPO in 2019, suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the first round but somehow made it through the first frame.
Reigning champion Sterling did not let up and Dillashaw's shoulder popped out again in the second round, allowing the 33-year-old Jamaican-American to take him down and dominate him until referee Mark Goddard called a halt
"I probably popped it out about 20 times in training camp... I told the ref in the back that my shoulder is probably going to pop out, we'll put it back so if it does don't stop (the fight)," American Dillashaw said in his post-fight interview.
In the main card's other big fight, American Sean O'Malley won a close split decision over Russian Petr Yan after a three-round brawl to put himself in pole position for a shot at the bantamweight title.