Last night (Sat., May 15, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured forth to Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, for UFC 262. Though losing Nate Diaz vs. Leon Edwards in the co-main event was a blow, UFC 262 was a quality show, one that really represented the continued movement of the Lightweight division. Khabib has long been retired, but now the belt could finally work its way back to the top contenders.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
A Full Circle Ending
Charles Oliveira got his storybook ending last night. He’s been insanely talented for about as long as anyone can remember, but the knock against “Do Bronx” has long been that he folds when the going gets tough ... especially if fatigued.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention to his recent win streak, you’d realize that those problems appear to be well in the past. Oliveira faced adversity vs. David Teymur without pause, and his wrestling match with Kevin Lee would have exhausted lesser fighters. Still, it was only fitting that Oliveira completed his 10-year quest for the title by overcoming a tiring and brutal first round, definitively proving that only greatness remains in the Brazilian.
The man has been forged by fire.
The sad aspect of this fight — and there was always going to be a sad side, because both men were worth cheering for — is that Chandler missed out on his own perfect ending. The man came out taking chances, and they nearly paid off. He came within millimeters of stopping Oliveira in the first, and “Iron” looked positively dangerous in round one.
Unfortunately, Chandler is 34 years old, and he’s been in lots of wars already. When hurt, he couldn’t recover despite his best efforts. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Chandler absolutely proved himself as one of the best Lightweights in the world, just like he’s been saying all along.
Like Oliveira before him, Beneil Dariush dominated Tony Ferguson on the ground ... and he made it look easy. He’s now won seven in a row, and it’s time to get that man in the cage with someone like Justin Gaethje.
As for Ferguson, I must be feeling morbid, because for the second time in two weeks, I wrote about a crumbling Lightweight legend (check it out HERE).
Easier Said Than Done
Everyone knows the strategy against Edson Barboza. One has to pressure him, tire him out, and convince him to circle into heavy punches. Everyone knows that! Obviously, an excellent pressure boxer with ripping body shots (Shane Burgos) is well-equipped to capitalize on Barboza’s flaws.
Knowing what to do and then executing that strategy when every Barboza kick strikes like lightning is something different. Burgos tried to close distance and land his punches, but he was eating so many shots in the process. Furthermore, it does not get easier to start slipping punches after taking chopping low kicks and hard spin kicks to the liver.
Burgos only grew more hittable en route to the knockout loss.
It’s an excellent win for Barboza that should push him into the Featherweight Top 10, but it’s also a definitive pattern for Burgos. The boxer has incredible physicality and pace, and he’s willing to walk through monstrous shots to work his game. Against Calvin Kattar, Josh Emmett and now Barboza — three elite Featherweights who are hitters — Burgos’ chin failed to keep up with his mentality in the third round.
Something has to change if Burgos is to be more than an action fighter at 145 pounds.
Confidence Is Key
Andre Muniz is not a better grappler than Ronaldo Souza.
That does not mean, however, that Muniz cannot out-grapple Souza in an MMA fight. That’s the glory of MMA. When punches and elbows and transitions between martial arts are introduced, the game changes, and everyone is vulnerable. Souza has found this out the hard way before via upkick/up-punch losses, but he was once again reminded that a black belt only covers two inches of your ass.
Unlike many past foes, Muniz punished Souza’s bruiser style with takedowns. He willingly engaged the grappling master. Souza, for his part, showed little concern in escaping position, but as he went to reverse a back take attempt, Muniz trapped the arm.
Souza tried to yank free, and perhaps a younger “Jacare” would have done so. When he was unable to free his shoulder, Muniz hipped in, applying immense pressure to the rotator cuff. Like any other man, Souza’s shoulder popped, largely because Muniz was willingly to try to do the impossible.
One Minute War!
Jamie PIckett and Jordan Wright both intended to go home with a bonus.
They were firing from the first bell, until a knee from Wright — foreshadowing: this tall Middleweight has nasty knees — sent Pickett searching for a takedown along the fence. Rather than defend the shot, Wright opted to elbow and punch the crap out of his opponent. That’s a bold choice ... and it paid off instantly.
Pickett failed to let go of the leg quickly, and when he did release his grip, Wright continued to flurry with knees and punches. “The Beverly Hills Ninja” is a seriously kill-or-be-killed fighter, but he moved to 2-1 inside the Octagon as a credit to his opportunism.
- Andrea Lee defeats Antonina Shevchenko via second-round triangle-armbar (HIGHLIGHTS): Lee entered this bout having lost three close bouts in a row, often because she made quesitonable in-fight decisions. In this bout, however, Lee smartly brawled just enough to set up the takedown, at which she proved herself several levels above the elder Shevchenko sister on the mat. Speaking of, Shevchenko continues to show little to no development in her grappling — there’s no need to ever worry about her running into her sister!
- Priscila Cachoeira defeats Gina Mazany via second-round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Cardio is key. Mazany was the superior technical wrestler and won large portions of the fight via top control, but she failed to do much damage in the process. Cachoeira is no technician, but she is a physical force, so when the Brazilian was able to deny some shots and stand with a tired foe, the damage built up quickly.
- Christos Giagos defeats Sean Soriano via second-round d’arce choke (HIGHLIGHTS): It’s been seven years since Soriano’s first UFC run, an 0-3 stretch that saw him out-grappled and released. Though the Sanford MMA has talent and crisp striking — which won him the first round — his ground game once again unraveled. I don’t know if we should really blame Soriano despite what history suggests, however, as it was really a brilliant move from Giagos! Not long after securing side control, GIagos countered his foe’s attempt to use an underhook to stand, sprawling hard to drive the head into the mat and immediately attacking the choke. It was a slick transition, one that earned Giagos his third win in four bouts.
For complete UFC 262: “Chandler vs. Oliveira” results and play-by-play, click HERE!