With many UFC fans still unconvinced of the elite status tagged to Michael Chandler, the former Bellator champion faces off with long-time UFC sweetheart, Charles Oliveira, for the Lightweight Title.
UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler Predictions & Results
As has become custom for UFC PPVs of recent years, the UFC is banking on their main and co-main events carrying the hype for this card. Somehow managing to shoehorn three women’s fights into a twelve fight card, perhaps only the promise of the Burgos and Barboza bloodbath is enough to save the non-main/co-main.
There has to be a quick note to mention the sad cancellation for both the Edwards/Diaz and Hermansson/Shahbazyan fights. With both to be rescheduled, UFC 262 was crying out for the meme showdown of Edwards/Diaz, while the Middleweight bout would have been a perfect push for the victor towards the top rankings.
vacant UFC Lightweight Championship
Charles Oliveira (30-8) vs Michael Chandler (22-5)
Do Bronx has experienced one of the biggest career glow ups across any sports during the past few years. Initially entering the UFC as a hot South American prospect over a decade ago, Oliveira has hit several road bumps on his way to the top. An exceptional grappler, Oliveira’s issue has largely been his incredibly leaky striking defence in addition to cardio troubles. Since moving up from Featherweight to Lightweight, Oliveira has grown into his adult body and has been able to mask his troubles. Rather than offering opponents the opportunity to exploit his defensive inefficiencies, Oliveira pressures on the feet with a diverse kicking game. Moreover, rather than spend vital energy chasing takedowns, Oliveira forces opponents to panic wrestle or crumble to his explosive kicks – creating opportunities where he can transition to dominant ground positions.
Oliveira is largely famous due to his elite work off the back, using the armbar regularly as a transitionary tool. Rather than committing to the armbar as a submission, Oliveira instead uses the threat to create space and coax opponents out of commanding positions. While Oliveira has recently peppered Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee with calf kicks, it is the front and sidekicks that will reign supreme against Michael Chandler. Rather than allow Chandler to land his nuclear hands in boxing range, Oliveira instead needs to fight at an extended distance and burn the former Bellator champions questionable gas tank. When Oliveira eventually smothers his work by falling into his shots and finds himself in danger in the pocket, Oliveira needs to rely on chopping elbows to prevent Chandler from finding the perfect moment to detonate his overhand.
Power is often an overrated aspect in fighting, yet in the case of Michael Chandler, his heavy hands are one exception. While many casuals overlooked Chandler’s stoppage in Bellator over Patricky Pitbull, David Rickels, and Benson Henderson, Chandler’s power was undeniable after his first-round stoppage in the UFC over the granite chinned Dan Hooker. Fighting behind lots of level changes, as is tradition for elite wrestlers to constantly keep the threat of the takedown on an opponents mind, Chandler rises out of his crouched stance into powerful overhands. Defensively, Chandler is more compact than Oliveira but he also burns far more energy with huge, explosive head movements. In regards to wrestling, however, Chandler’s hands tucked to his chest (rather than cheeks) enables rapid reactive TDD (as seen against Eddie Alvarez). Taking Oliveira down may initially seem less than ideal when considering the Brazilian’s ridiculous BJJ. Oliveira’s greatest success off the back stems from operating with space away from the cage. Chandler’s aggressive striking and power punching is more likely to see the fight take place near the cage of the octagon, from which Chandler can use the cage to control Oliveira and limit his creativity.
Predicted Result: Oliveira Submission Round 4
Regardless of whether either man truly deserves a shot at the vacant title, this stylistic match-up is absolutely filthy. Two outcomes seem most obvious. On one hand, Chandler finishes this early as a result of his massive power differential, aggressive cage cutting and Oliveira’s leaky striking defence. On the other, Oliveira’s aggressive kicking game keeps Chandler outside boxing range, wears on Chandler’s suspect gas tank, forces unfavourable wrestling exchanges which eventually sees Oliveira snap a submission. Yes, Chandler has successfully seen the final of the championship rounds several times, but he noticeably fatigues. Since moving up from Featherweight, Oliveira seems to have ironed out his conditioning issues. Moreover, Chandler struggled to deal with Hooker’s leg work during his debut, a weapon that Oliveira has honed over the past couple of years. While Chandler’s sweltering top control has not yet been showcased in the UFC, it could be Oliveira’s kryptonite if he is forced against the cage. Off his back in the centre of the octagon, however, Oliveira has the space to work his magic – utilising the threat of the armbar to gain a superior position rather than secure a submission (I’m sure Tony Ferguson would say differently though).
Result: Oliveira def. Chandler // TKO (punches) Round 2 0:19
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Tony Ferguson (25-5) vs Beneil Dariush (20-4-1)
Finally feeling the effects after a career of entertaining damage, Ferguson’s high-risk middling-reward total pressure style finally seems to have bitten him on the arse. While Ferguson’s grinding, pressure full-blooded aggression made him famous and secure scalps over Kevin Lee, RDA and Edson Barboza, it has also been the catalyst for Ferguson’s spectacular fall off over the past two years. Of course, Ferguson’s strange approach to training, frequent weight cuts and reliance upon his durability have all played into the 2020 version of Ferguson that saw many fans jump off his hype train. Although Dariush marks Ferguson’s first step down in quality for a couple of years, it may be too little too late for the thirty-seven-year-old. Fergusson was unable to pressure Gaethje due to the massive power counter punching threat, while he was rag-dolled by Oliveira on the mat.
If Ferguson can find his magical pre-2020 form, we can expect unorthodox angles/combinations on the feet as his unrelenting pressure aims to break opponents mentally and physically. Ferguson has seemed content to plug away on the feet, preferring to land his diverse arsenal of single shots rather than grind opponents on the mat. Although Oliveira was able to bully Ferguson, Dariush doesn’t carry similar power to brute force Ferguson to the mat. Least not because of Ferguson’s lethal front headlock work offering more than enough deterrent to Dariush blindly shooting in the centre of the octagon. Ferguson’s eye for a counter has never been an issue, however, yet horrendous shot selection needs to be highlighted. If it wasn’t the closing bell, Ferguson was mere seconds from finishing Gaethje with a mammoth uppercut. Rather than set up the uppercut in ensuing rounds, Ferguson instead punched Gathje’s lead leg in the knee/quad. The strange nature of Ferguson is as captivating as it is frustrating for fans of top quality combatants.
Dariush has always been a top wrestler, but during the 2016-2018 period he moved away from the mat in favour of his heavy hands. After suffering an 0-2-1 streak, including an ignominious first-round knockout to Alexander Hernandez, Dariush made a clear move back towards his aggressive striking mixed into power wrestling and top pressure. While Dariush can be loose with his combinations, his left body kick is a fantastic shot with little telegraphing. Diving into front-foot shots, Dariush picks his shots before retracting his head but not his feet to ensure that he remains in the pocket for potential counters. The issue, however, is Dariush regularly drops his hands after firing punches – and against a risk-taker like Ferguson, it leaves his chin wide open. Moreover, Dariush is certainly vulnerable to extensive pressure and has been broken down by Chiesa, Barboza and Henandez over the past few years.
Predicted Result: Ferguson Decision
It is still so difficult to estimate just how far Ferguson has regressed, and to guess whether Ferguson will change his style/approach after a brutal two-fight slide? Ferguson’s unrelenting pressure may have been countered by Gaethje’s power differential, yet there was no excuse against Oliveira as Ferguson offered little off his back while being rag-dolled. Still, Dariush is a flawed fighter with enough holes in his game that even a hollow Ferguson may be able to conquer. Dariush is a powerful wrestler who since suffering a wobble over 2016-2018 has regained his identity as an aggressive, heavy-handed striker who fluidly mixes in pressure wrestler. Lingering in the pocket and dropping his hands after firing combinations, however, plays directly into Ferguson’s high-risk high-volume arsenal. If Ferguson approaches this fight in a similar vein to the Oliveira fight, however, he will be ground out against the cage (rather than the mat).
Result: Dariush def. Ferguson // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Matt Schnell (15-5) vs Rogerio Bontorin (16-3)
Despite being finished in the first round twice in the Ultimate Fighter and his debut, Schnell has fought back to a 5-1 rise with that sole loss coming against top Flyweight Alexandre Pantoja. Favouring his grappling, Schnell has been forced to reign in blind takedowns and iron out his striking. More willing to throw heat on the feet, Schnell’s defence is still largely restricted to distance management, yet more explosive offence is an excellent vehicle into the clinch/takedown. Schnell certainly has the ability to stick and move his way to a decision victory, as seen last time out against Tyson Nam, but his bread and butter remains on the mat – an area where his durability is far less compromised.
Rogerio Bontorin seems to have hit a wall in the UFC. Finding great difficulty in taking fighters down to the mat, despite his physically imposing stature, Bontorin has been forced to fight largely on the feet. Bontorin ferociously searches for an opponent’s back from which to secure a submission, wasting little time to chip away with punches. Bontorin does struggle with keeping opponents down as a result, however. Carrying heavy hands and capable of holding a defensive shell, Bontorin’s downfall on the feet is his tendency to be dragged into firefights. Kai Kara-France was able to force Bontorin to bite hard near the end of the first round, offering free access to the chin for the eventual knockout.
Predicted Result: Schnell Decision
Despite the incredibly rocky start to his UFC career, Schnell has battled back to a 5-1 rise which has showcased tightened boxing and less blind takedown attempts. While Schnell’s chin will always raise questions, his slick stick and move boxing against Tyson Nam last time out highlighted the maturity of Schnell’s game. Although heavy-handed, Bontorin bites hard on feints and suffers against fighters who pick their shots on the outside. Moreover, while Bontorin is a beast on the mat and a huge submission threat, his risk-taking allows opponents ample opportunity to escape back to the feet.
Result: Bontorin def. Schnell // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) vs Viviane Araujo (10-2)
One of the long-time Flyweight faces, Katlyn Chookagian finds herself in a weird position. Able to grind out decisions against rising prospects, Chookagian is levels below champion Valentina Shevchenko. Chookagian’s deep gas tank, safe kickboxing on the outside, and solid wrestling chops often see her hand raised. While taking almost no risks has seen her maintain her gatekeeper role to the Flyweight belt, it has also ensured that she has almost zero chance of another title shot without the highlight reel to back up her claim.
Entering the UFC as a strong grappling, Araujo has preferred to test herself on the feet. One of the rare athletically superb competitors at Flyweight, Araujo bounces lightly on her feet and regularly throws her jab while making a read on her opponent in front of her. Against Modafferi’s tame striking, Araujo was able to time slick lead uppercuts and looping hooks that eased through the guard of Modafferi. Moreover, Araujo’s timing on takedowns was deliciously slick during the later rounds.
Predicted Result: Chookagian Decision
With Araujo’s preference in the UFC to keep fights on the feet coupling with Chookagian’s solid TDD, expect a patient kickboxing battle where Chookagian’s length proves key. Araujo is the superior athlete, able to chip away with her jab and time excellent shots. Chookagian utilises her reach advantage to its full extent, as seen against Cynthia Calvillo where a variety of counter straights and front kicks kept her at a comfortable distance. Chookagian’s deep gas tank and higher volume will see her through a low-risk affair.
Result: Chookagian def. Araujo // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Shane Burgos (13-2) vs Edson Barboza (21-9)
It’s JUST BLEED time. Shane Burgos will always be a fan favourite, regardless of whether he wins or loses. Pressure is the key component of Burgos’ game. Constantly pressuring opponents back to the cage, Burgos fights his way into the pocket and then waits. Oftentimes, it grants him the opportunity to counter opponents who recklessly unload to create space. As seen against Josh Emmett however, when a fighter is equally comfortable in the pocket, Burgos’ low hands and reliance upon his chin is his downfall. During extended exchanges on the inside, Burgos’ natural reactive striking and focus to the body thrives as opponents aren’t able to out-endure him. Against stick and movers (Calvin Kattar) and juicy juicy orc men with freak power (Josh Emmett), Burgos’ becomes undone.
Yet another fighter who’s record doesn’t matter in regards to putting bums on seats, Edson Barboza is as aesthetic a striker as you could wish for. Although the game plan on how to beat Barboza has been out for several years now, fighters still routinely fail to adhere to pressuring Barboza against the cage and stifling his destructive long strikes. In part this is due to Barboza tightening up his boxing, occasionally using the check hook to accidentally move laterally rather than in a straight line backwards. Barboza will have ample opportunity to find success against Burgos, who at times waits in the pocket thinking about his next move, but he will also have to grit out a considerable amount of punishment to wear down Burgos.
Predicted Result: Barboza Decision
JUST BLEED TIME. An absolute bloodbath in regards to stylistic clash, Burgos’ pressure and desire to scrap in a phone booth will force an exhausting pace out of Barboza. Despite making a shock move down to Featherweight, Barboza has been able to make weight decently and appears massive on fight night. The game plan on how to beat Barboza has been out for years, pushing the Brazilian against the cage and stifling his kicking game. Burgos’ insane durability and pressure ensure ample opportunity for extended striking exchanges, but his almost non-existent ring cutting means Barboza can keep a safe distance away from the cage.
Result: Barboza def. Burgos // KO (punches) Round 3 1:16
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Jacare Souza (26-9) vs Andre Muniz (20-4)
I love me some Jacare but the man needs to hang up the gloves if he can’t overcome Andre Muniz on Saturday. Overwhelmed by Jack Hermansson on the mat, guns shy against Jan Blachowicz and knocked out from top position by Kevin Holland, Jacare has fought his last three fights befitting his elderly forty-one years of age. The grappling wizard has struggled with working opponents to the mat in recent years, forced to duel on the feet and rely on his power. There is still life in Souza, regularly landing successfully against current LHW champion Blachowicz, but a defeat to Muniz would highlight just how far the Former Strikeforce champion has deteriorated.
Andre Muniz is a tall Middleweight who thrives off of his back but not to the extent where he can submit Souza. Rather than using a jab to make the most of his reach, Muniz throws head kicks that may be able to catch an ageing Souza. Still, Bartosz Fabinski was able to dominate Muniz against the cage until he foolishly left his head wide open for a guillotine (which eventually transitioned into an armbar).
Predicted Result: Souza TKO Round 2
If Souza is to lose this, the Brazilian legend needs to retire. Muniz is a tall Middleweight with heavy head kicks and a strong submission game off his back, but there remain so many flaws. No jab to write about, little to no positional awareness in the octagon, and too inactive when held against the cage, this should be easy pickings for Souza. On a three-fight slide, with questions raised about his durability after the Holland TKO from top position, this fight is less easy to predict. Yet Souza was able to grind out a solid performance in the horrendously boring decision loss against the hard hitting LHW champion, Jan Blachowicz. Threatening with short combinations, as well as pockets of success against the fence and in the clinch indicate there is still life in the old dog.
Result: Muniz def. Souza // Technical Submission (armbar) Round 1 3:59
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Mike Grundy (12-2) vs Lando Vannata (11-5-2)
Mike Grundy is a rare product from England, a grinding wrestler capable of performing at the highest level. At thirty-four, the clock is ticking for the Team Kaobon man who is tasked with crawling to the top of one of the most packed divisions in terms of talent. Grundy applies pressure early and was able to work Evloev to the mat, yet the issue remains with keeping opponents down – a problem that causes Grundy to gas during the later rounds. Grinders with limited gas tanks isn’t a match made in heaven, but Grundy’s underrated power means he can soften break opponents early with his dirty boxing.
It was time for us to say that the Vannata hype train has left the station with little hope of it returning. By finally moving down to Featherweight, however, the creative wrestler’s size should prove less of an issue. Low hands, bouncing in and out from his light feet, Vannata is a fun fighter to watch but his inability to take opponents down has always been his downfall. With less weight to battle against, Vannata may finally be able to expand beyond his enjoyable counter-striking.
Predicted Result: Grundy Decision
By moving down in weight, Vannata may finally be able to showcase his wrestling rather than solely his enjoyable counter-striking. His low hands and light feet will cause Grundy a world of trouble on the feet, but the Englishman will instead be gunning to grind out Vannata on the mat from the opening bell. Grundy’s issue remains his gas tank, flagging up hard during the later rounds, and a late Vannata stoppage is a likely outcome. Still, the Englishman’s underrated power and dirty boxing should be enough to capture the early scorecards.
Result: Vannata def. Grundy // Decision (split – 27-30, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Jamie Pickett (11-5) vs Jordan Wright (11-1)
Jamie Pickett impressed in his last-minute call-up against Tafon Nchukwi, using his impressive 80″ to survive an early barrage to then find success in the clinch and the occasional counter. Threatening with the takedown, suffocating dangerous situations on the inside with quick clinches, and a surprisingly fast head kick – Pickett has the frame to succeed but needs more experience at a decent level.
Jordan Wright is a huge Middleweight, but it is still almost impossible to mark his ceiling. Often finishing fights in the first round, Wright was stopped by Hernandez brutally during DWCS (then overturned to an NC) and fell apart on the inside against Joaquin Buckley’s pressure. Wright is a powerful counter-striker on the outside, but he lacks hand speed and is often beaten to the mark in 50/50 exchanges.
Predicted Result: Pickett TKO Round 3
Wright is an explosive striker on the outside with ridiculous power, he is far too easily bullied against the fence. With his back against the cage, Wright can land cutting knees and elbows (as seen against Ike Villanueva) but having never gone to a decision, we are left unaware of whether he can survive during the later rounds. Pickett is a limited fighter, but he picks his counter strikes well and threatens with takedowns/clinches when he finds himself in dangerous positions. After surviving the early barrage against Tafon Nchukwi, Pickett should be able to do the same again and drag Wright into deep waters.
Result: Wright def. Pickett // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:51
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Andrea Lee (11-5) vs Antonina Shevchenko (9-2)
Sitting on a three-fight slide, Lee has found herself on the end of some razor-thin decisions that could have easily swayed the other way on the night. A volume striker, Lee stays light on her feet and chips away at opponents with blistering barrages rather than looking for heavier significant shots. Recently, Lee has added a strong clinch game that involves dirty boxing and sharp trips. Although a little sloppy from top position, Lee has significantly improved her ground game to the extent that she looks a far cry from the Sarah D’Alelio fight back in Invicta.
Sister of the far more successful Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina is a Muay Thai striker whose grappling chops has held her back from rising the rankings. Despite the leaps she made from the Chookagian fight to the eventual stoppage of Ariane Lipski on the ground, it is far too easy for Antonina to be bullied against the cage. In part, this is due to her inability to gain an opponent’s respect on the feet, never committing to hard counters and instead constantly moving around the border of the octagon.
Predicted Result: Lee Decision
In a pure Muay Thai fight, Antonina would fare much better, yet the threat of the takedown often leaves Antonina gun shy and refusing to sit into her counters. Lee can lose herself in her blistering combinations, leaving herself open to body kicks, but eh relentless aggression will keep Antonina unable to commit all night. While Antonina has made huge leaps on her ground game since the Chookagian fight, Lee’s ability to mix the grappling/wrestling with her striking is far more seamless.
Result: Lee def. Shevchenko // Submission (triangle armbar) Round 2 4:52
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Gina Mazany (7-4) vs Priscila Cachoeira (9-3)
Mazany is very much at the lower end of the gatekeeper spectrum; just enough to keep Instagram models like Rachael Ostovich out of the UFC, but not qualified to give tough rounds to Julia Avila or Macy Chiasson. Mazany is a strangely rigid striker, where her power left seems to be thrown through water yet her lead right hook is one the crisper shots to be found in the women’s divisions. Instead, Mazany relies on her wrestling and her bulkier size at 125 to bully the smaller Flyweights.
Crikey, Cachoeira is one of the fighters who serve to show just how far the female UFC journeyman have to improve before they can match the quality found in the men’s divisions. Despite taking off Shana Dobson’s head last time out with a huge uppercut, it is hardly the finest scalp to have on the record. Cachoeira is a fighter who bites down on the gumshield, runs forward her chin towards the ceiling, and swings hook after hook after hook. No striking defence, utter reliance on durability, and laughable ground game – this is PPV quality.
Predicted Result: Mazany Decision
Mazany is very much at the lower end of the gatekeeper spectrum; just enough to keep Instagram models like Rachael Ostovich out of the UFC, but not qualified to give tough rounds to Julia Avila or Macy Chiasson. Mazany will have the opportunity to show her wrestling chops off against the very limited power punching Priscila Cachoeira. Cachoeira is as durable as they come, but that’s about it.
Result: Cachoeira def. Mazany // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:51
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Kevin Aguilar (17-4) vs Tucker Lutz (11-1)
On a three-fight slide to decent opposition (Ige, Tukhugov, Rosa), Aguilar desperately needs a victory if he is to keep his UFC contract. Never truly in his athletic prime, Aguilar fights far too patiently on the feet waiting for the perfect shot but never making much effort to open up his opponents. I mean, Aguilar was beaten in a clean kickboxing match with Charles Rosa – that’s never a great indicator of positive career progression.
Forgetting a debut knockout loss, DWCS prospect Tucker Lutz has otherwise been a spectacular stoppage machine. There are conditioning issues, but he proved he can grind out victories in his last bout against Sherrard Blackledge. Built like a top-heavy barrel, Lutz has a powerful kickboxing game in addition to power wrestling and grinding top control.
Predicted Result: Lutz Decision
This is the last chance saloon for Aguilar, on a three-fight slide and never entertaining, the patient striker needs to finally find the shot of his life. Lutz is a powerful kickboxer with solid wrestling chops and grinding top control, but there are gas tank issues that Aguilar can expose during the later rounds. Lutz volume and aggression should be enough to see him bank the early rounds, even with a dip in activity late.
Result: Lutz def. Aguilar // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Sean Soriano (14-6) vs Christos Giagos (18-8)
Returning to the UFC after an 0-3 stint back in 2013-2014, Sean Soriano has been more hit than miss across a variety of regional promotions. Still susceptible on the ground, Soriano’s move up in weight to take the fight will only expose his deficiencies further.
Another UFC second stinter, Giagos has found far more success defeating decent fillers in the roster (Carlton Minus, Damir Hadzovic). Giagos now uses strikes as a means to close distance and secure the takedown, and while there is little threat of knockout power, it has allowed Giagos to diversify his wrestling. Still, conditioning issues are a glaring flaw that will stop Giagos from moving up in quality.
Predicted Result: Giagos Decision
Soriano returns to the UFC after a previous 0-3 stint back in 2013-2014, this time, however, Soriano has tightened up his striking. Utilising a ferocious leg kick, Soriano beats opponents out of their comfortable stance and opens them up to powerful hooks. Soriano struggles on the ground, however, an area that Giagos thrives. Now using strikes as a means to close the distance and set up the takedown, Giagos’ main issue is conditioning. Possible late Soriano finish, but a decent amount of layin and prayin should see Soriano through to a decision.
Result: Giagos def. Soriano // Technical Submission (brabo choke) Round 2 0:59
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: Long live Champ Oliveira!
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