UFC 262 Picks – Oliveira vs. Chandler
The most stacked division within the UFC is going to finally regain some sense of order on Saturday night when Charles Oliveira takes on Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight title.
After UFC 261 provided us with some of the most exciting fights in recent history, we hope that this matchup between Oliveira vs. Chandler is equally as good, if not better.
Since the former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired undefeated in October 2020 when he convincingly beat Justin Gaethje, the division has been stagnant. UFC president Dana White was certain he could convince ‘The Eagle’ to continue and hopefully secure a lucrative rematch with bitter rival Connor McGregor, however, Dana’s efforts were met with a stone wall adamancy from Nurmagomedov who insisted he truly was finished.
Two new contenders emerge
If you had asked the fanbase to predict who would be fighting for the vacant title 2 years ago, nobody would have been able to predict that Oliveira would be matched against Chandler for gold. Former featherweight Charles Oliveira has slowly been climbing the rankings since moving up a division, currently on an eight-fight win streak with multiple ‘fight of the night’ bonuses. This impressive streak also has two noticeable scalps in the form of Kevin Lee in March of 2020 and most recently, a complete three round demolition of former interim champ Tony Ferguson in December. Looking to derail this run to the belt is former Bellator lightweight champion ‘iron’ Michael Chandler.
As odd as it sounds, this will only be Chandler’s second fight within the organization since joining in 2020, having made an impactful start to his spell within the promotion by knocking out Dan Hooker inside the first round with a vicious left hook. His performance and ‘company man’ attitude gained the attention of White who has rewarded him by putting him straight in for a title bout.
Competent strikers who have high pedigree grappling
Trying to predict a winner for this fight is increasingly difficult, as both fighters have a strong grappling background with Chandler having an NCAA Division All-American honors as part of his esteemed collegiate wrestling career prior to his move into MMA, while Oliveira is no slouch, boasting a third-degree black belt coupled with eleven years inside the promotion at the height of the sport. Should either fighter not want to lean on these credentials, they can both rely on their strong striking skills to make the difference. Given his strength and explosiveness coupled with his championship experience from Bellator, we’re picking ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler to win on Saturday to become a two-promotion world champion.
What awaits the winner?
Although sealing a world championship title in the UFC is a massive achievement, it may be a somewhat hollow win for the victor, knowing that the last champion retired undefeated without ever truly being troubled inside the octagon despite taking on all challengers. Although Khabib did hint that he would need to see something special to come out of retirement, alluding to interest in seeing another fighter put together an impressive streak to rival his own would potentially excite him to return to the octagon. But whoever lifts gold on Saturday night will struggle to hold onto the belt, as the top contenders will be in waiting in the wings for the winner.
Poirier is due to rematch McGregor in their highly anticipated trilogy in July with the winner expected to take on the newly crowned champion next, while Tony Ferguson is tied up with Beneil Dariush on this weekend’s undercard. Dan Hooker looks to bounce back against Rafael Dos Anjos, leaving Justin Gaethje out in the cold, perhaps even facing the winner to try and re-establish himself inside the division.
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