Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to face-punching later tonight (Sat., May 15, 2021) for its latest pay-per-view (PPV) offering with UFC 262, which will go down inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Headlining the event will be a Lightweight title fight that will see Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira compete for the vacant strap. In the co-headlining act, Tony Ferguson returns to face Beneil Dariush in a pivotal 155-pound affair.
After finally accepting the fact that Khabib Nurmagomedov would not be walking down to the Octagon again, Dana White and Co. ultimately gave in and decided to put the vacant strap up for grabs. Now, long-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran Charles Oliveira and former Bellator MMA Lightweight champion Michael Chandler — who has just one win inside the Octagon — will get the chance to see who rules the 155-pound roost moving forward. On top of that, the winner likely sets himself up for a potential big-money fight against Conor McGregor, assuming “Notorious” defeats Dustin Poirier at UFC 264.
On to the fight itself ...
Oliveira has long been the forgotten contender at 155 pounds, so it’s good to see him finally get a shot at winning gold. He is on an eight-fight win streak and hasn’t tasted defeat in three years. While he isn’t exactly a slouch on the feet, the ground game is his obvious preference, with five of his eight wins during his run coming by way of submission. And it doesn’t matter who he’s tangling with on the ground, if he gets a hold of you in a good position chances are you are going to be tapping for dear life. That said, trying to take down a powerhouse wrestler like Chandler isn’t going to be easy.
Chandler was already legit and established long before he stepped foot inside the Octagon. Still, the former Bellator champion re-assured everyone that he wasn’t crossing over just to get more eyeballs on him ... he is here to win it all. And he made an emphatic statement in his debut, knocking out Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 257 earlier this year. While Chandler is no novice on the ground, his jiu-jitsu skills don’t compare to those of “Do Bronx’s,” so the stand up game will be his best road to gold. He’s proven time and again he’s got power for days and, at the end of the day, that will be the deciding factor in this one. Oliveira may have a slight reach on Chandler, but if the American can get in and make it a dirty fight on the inside and get enough of an opening to land some bombs, it won’t bode well for “Do Bronx.” It’s a legit clash of styles here, and either way we will be hearing “And new!”
Ronaldo Souza is one of the most accomplished and established veterans on UFC’s roster, facing the best-of-the best throughout his tenure. Sure, he’s struggled as a of late, but I don’t like the match up he was given against Andre Muniz. Souza is a near 20-year MMA veteran and has competed for the promotion 15 times against the likes of Chris Weidman, Kelvin Gastelum, Jan Blachowicz, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker, just to name a few. While Muniz has been in the game for more than one decade, he doesn’t exactly have the name value of Souza since this will be just his third fight inside the Octagon. For my money, I would have preferred to see Souza take on another long-time UFC veteran.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Alex Perez bowed out of his scheduled Flyweight bout against Matt Schnell for undisclosed reasons. He was ultimately replaced by Rogerio Bontorin, who will take the fight at Bantamweight. Sean Soriano agreed to step in to face Christos Giagos after Joel Alvarez ran into visa issues. And due to COVID-19 protocols, a Middleweight bout between Edmen Shahbazyan and Jack Hermansson was scrapped and shifted over to UFC Vegas 27 on May 22, 2021.
The original co-main event was set to feature a five-round Welterweight fight between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz. The promotion, however, yanked the fight after Diaz suffered a minor injury and moved it to UFC 263, which goes down a few weeks after UFC 262.
Tucker Lutz will bring his 11-fight win streak to the Octagon for the first time to do battle against Kevin Aguilar in “Prelims” action. After spending most of his professional career competing for the Shogun Fights banner, Lutz made his way onto “Contender Series.” There, he impressed UFC brass to finally earn a UFC contract, though he did have to prove victorious twice in three months before getting the call up. His opponent — also a “Contender Series” alum — hasn’t has the best run inside the Octagon so far. After starting off his UFC career with two straight wins, he has dropped three in a row and is danger of getting his pink slip if he loses his fourth in a row. For much more on Lutz’s journey to the Octagon click here.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Lando Vannata may not be all that consistent inside the Octagon when it comes to getting wins, but when fight night rolls around, the thing he is consistent with is the excitement level he brings to the cage. Vannata quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his balls to the wall attitude, though it’s equated to a rather tepid record so far. Against Mike Grundy, he will face a fighter who suffered the first loss of his UFC career in his last bout, which also snapped his nine-fight win streak, so you know he is hungry for a win.
Andrea Lee is in desperate need of a win after dropping thee in a row; however, the road doesn’t get much easier in “H-Town” when she takes on Antonina Shevchenko, who is coming off a huge technical knockout win over Ariane Lipski. Shevchenko has yet to earn consecutive wins inside the Octagon, getting one over Lee would be huge for her aspirations to climb the Top 10.
Jamie Pickett didn’t do so well in his UFC debut, coming up short against Tafon Nchukwi in Dec. 2020. He hopes to have a better outing against Jordan Wright, who was knocked out by Joaquin Buckley in his previous fight. In further action, Christos Giagos will battle Sean Soriano, who makes his UFC return after six years removed from his first stint. Since leaving UFC in 2015, he has gone on to collect a 5-3 record and has won three in a row.
After a rough start to her UFC career, which saw her lose three in a row, including a one-sided beatdown against Valentina Shevchenko, Priscila Cachoeira finally picked up her first UFC win over Shana Dobson more than one year ago. She hopes to build off that momentum when she battles Gina Mazany, who knocked out Rachael Ostovich in her previous bout. With a record of 3-4 inside the Octagon, Mazany needs a big win here to avoid the dreaded pink slip.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
At one point in his career, Tony Ferguson was considered to be the most overlooked fighter at 155 pounds, and it took him having to rack up nine straight wins before he got his first shot at winning UFC gold, an interim title fight against Kevin Lee at UFC 216. He was later stripped due to injury. He went on to collect two more wins to improve his win streak to 11. Since then, however, he hasn’t looked all that great, dropping back-to-back fights against Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. Granted, losing to a couple of the best fighters at 155-pounds — one a former champion, the other the current No. 1 contender — isn’t anything to be ashamed of, but “El Cucuy” simply didn’t look like himself in either of those fights. He was dominated from the jump and he never popped off the offense we’ve grown accustomed to. Staring down the barrel of three straight losses, things won’t get easier for Ferguson against Beneil Dariush (preview), though that’s to be expected when lurking around the Top 5 on a consistent basis.
Dariush is Ferguson in many ways. He’s often overlooked early on, having to win non-stop to get a shot. Currently on a six fight win streak, a win over Ferguson could be what puts him over the top and into a Top 5 spot, inching him perhaps one more win away from a shot at the title. For Ferguson, he simply needs a win to prevent further down the ladder.
Interest Level: 6.5/10
Edson Barboza has long been one of the most exciting strikers to ever step foot inside the Octagon. Over the last few years, though, he hasn’t found much success inside the Octagon, going just 2-5 in his last seven fights. He did get back on track in his previous bout against Makwan Amirkhani, but he will have a tough task ahead of him if he wants to score back-to-back wins for the first time in a long time against Shane Burgos, who has racked up a 6-2 mark so far in his UFC career.
Katlyn Chookagian is hoping to get back into the title picture by collecting consecutive wins when she faces off against surging Flyweight contender, Vivian Araujo, winner of two straight in a pivotal match up. With another win, Araujo can find herself in the Top 5 and a bit closer to her ever shot at capturing UFC gold. Also, top Bantamweight scrappers Matt Schnell and Rogerio Bontorin will collide in what is sure-to-be an all out war in a sleeper to win “Fight of the Night.”
And of course, we will see the crowning of a new 155-pound champion and possibly the rise of a new contender in Dariush or the revival of a longtime veteran in Ferguson. While the card suffered several setbacks, it should still be an interesting night of fights.
UFC 262 Full Fight Card:
UFC 262 PPV Main Event:
155 lbs.: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for vacant lightweight title
UFC 262 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
185 lbs.: Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan— Postponed (details)
125 lbs.: Viviane Araujo vs. Katlyn Chookagian
145 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Shane Burgos
125 lbs.: Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin
UFC 262 Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Andre Muniz vs. Ronaldo Souza
155 lbs.: Mike Grundy vs. Lando Vannata
125 lbs.: Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko
185 lbs.: Jamie Pickett vs. Jordan Wright
UFC 262 Early Prelims Card On Fight Pass/ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Gina Mazany
145 lbs.: Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 262 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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