Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will clash TONIGHT (Sat., May 15, 2021) at UFC 262 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Chandler waited the better part of a decade to cross over into the Octagon for the first time, but he couldn’t have timed it any better. One monstrous left hook leveled Dan Hooker, setting Chandler on this unlikely path to a Lightweight title in just his second UFC bout. Oliveira also took the long road to UFC contention, but he did so by grinding through tough times on the undercard. The result is a battle-forged “Do Bronx,” an ultra-tough and dangerous veteran who has seen it all.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Dan Hooker (UFC 257), Benson Henderson (Bellator 243, Bellator 165), Brent Primus (Bellator 212), Patricky Freire (Bellator 157), Eddie Alvarez (Bellator 58)
Key Losses: Patricio Freire (Bellator 221), Brent Primus (Bellator NYC), Will Brooks (Bellator 120, Bellator 131)
Keys to Victory: There is not much spectacularly complicated about Chandler’s approach to fighting. Instead, the decorated wrestler has taken his hard-nosed and athletic approach to takedowns and applied it to kickboxing, applying the fundamentals at a very high-level.
He’s stopped 17 of his opponents before the final bell.
It seems to me that Chandler needs a knockout to win this fight. He’s spoken several times in the lead up of this bout that he intends to drag Oliveira into deep water, but I don’t know if that’s the best strategy. After all, Oliveira’s conditioning is pretty excellent, whereas Chandler has slowed down.
Rather than try to grind the jiu-jitsu ace — which sounds like a recipe for a late-fight submission loss — Chandler has to put his fists on Oliveira’s face. Oliveira is an offensive whirlwind, but by pressuring his opponents so aggressively, he’s definitely taking defensive risks.
Unlike many of Oliveira’s past foes, Chandler has undeniable knockout power in both hands. To make use of it, Chandler should remain evasive, wait for his foe to get over-aggressive, and then punish him.
Record: 30-8 (1)
Key Wins: Tony Ferguson (UFC 256), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 170), David Teymur (UFC Fight Night 144), Jeremy Stephens (TUF 20 Finale), Myles Jury (UFC on FOX 17), Hatsu Hioki (UFC Fight Night 43), Will Brooks (UFC 210)
Key Losses: Paul Felder (UFC 218), Anthony Pettis (UFC on FOX 21), Frankie Edgar (UFC 162), Cub Swanson (UFC 152), Ricardo Lamas (UFC Fight Night 98)
Keys to Victory: Fighters don’t come much more dangerous than Oliveira. He’s finished a vast majority of his victories, and though a majority of those stoppages came via submission, his knockout power has developed quite a bit in the last couple years.
To win this bout, Oliveira has to make use of his pace and pressure without getting knocked out in the process. He’s been rather fearless in striking exchanges as of late, and while confidence is great, a bit more caution would be well-advised given the dynamite in Chandler’s fists.
Fortunately, Oliveira can more safely attack with his kicks. He does a great job of mixing snapping teeps and thudding low kicks, two weapons that should serve him very well against a stocky wrestler with a wide stance. Plus, firing lots of kicks will help convince Chandler to wrestle, which benefits Oliveira.
On the mat, Oliveira can force his foe on the defensive even from his back. More importantly, time spent grappling will slow Chandler’s athleticism, making he knockout less less likely.
The Lightweight title is up for grabs.
This isn’t the title fight anyone would have predicted nine months ago, but doesn’t that make the fight all the more exciting? It’s an excellent and compelling match up regardless, but the fact that one of these unlikely contenders will be named UFC champion is just fun.
Chandler’s potential rise to the title would be the ultimate vindication of his talent. He’s claimed to be one of the best Lightweights alive for years and years, and a lot of people mocked him for it. Raising the title over his head would be the ultimate comeback, an undeniable accomplishment that proves his greatness.
As for Oliveira, he’s been written off too, even labeled a quitter. Indeed, there was a time where it seemed unlikely for Oliveira to fully capitalize on his potential — which is saying something, considering he was still in the Top 10 while underperforming. His past struggles forced Oliveira to really prove himself on his current extended win streak, but they also have served as valuable learning experiences.
The title would be a great symbol of that growth.
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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At UFC 262, Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will go to war in the main event. Which man leaves the cage strapped with gold?