The UFC lightweight division is finally ready to leave Khabib Nurmagomedov behind, more than half a year after the undefeated champion retired in the Octagon.
And it is quite remarkable that Charles Oliveira (30-8) or Michael Chandler (22-5) are the ones who take the throne from Nurmagomedov. When they meet at UFC 262 on Saturday in Houston, it will be the first UFC lightweight title fight since July 2016 that will not feature Nurmagomedov or Conor McGregor. Instead, it will match two of the best, but often overlooked, lightweights of the last decade.
Oliveira was 20 years old when he made his UFC debut in 2010. When he enters the Octagon this weekend, he will make his 28th appearance in the UFC, the most it cost a fighter to reach a title fight in history. promotion.
UFC 262: Oliveira-Chandler buys PPV here
Chandler won the Bellator MMA lightweight title in just his ninth professional fight in 2011. Actually, he wanted to fight in the UFC from then on, to test himself against the best of the main organization. He then signed four more contracts with Bellator, in part because the promotion treated him so well, before finally signing with the UFC late last year. Saturday is just his second fight in the UFC.
It’s a showdown of two title contenders who dealt with very long but very different waits to get to this point. And to add to that theme, at the co-feature event, former interim champion Tony Ferguson, who won 12 straight UFC fights but never fought for the undisputed championship, will attempt to end a two-game losing streak and show his hopes of being a non-champion. They are dead when he confronts Beneil Dariush.
Nurmagomedov’s decision to walk away opened the door for many lightweights to seize the opportunity. Saturday will see the first domino fall to determine the best 155-pound fighter on the post-Khabib planet.
28: UFC fights from Oliveira (including Saturday), who made his Octagon debut in August 2020 when he was 20 years old. If he wins the title, he would surpass Michael Bisping for the most fights in a UFC career before capturing an undisputed championship. Bisping did so in his 26th appearance.
2: Fighters who won titles in both the UFC and Bellator (Eddie Alvarez, Cris Cyborg). Chandler, a three-time Bellator lightweight champion, is looking to be third.
6: Techniques Oliveira used to secure his 14 submissions: guillotine choke (five, UFC record); rear-naked choke (four); strangling anaconda (two); armbar (one); triangle (one); calf slicer (one of two in UFC history).
8: Back-to-back wins for Oliveira, the longest active winning streak in the UFC lightweight division. Islam Makhachev is right behind with seven wins in a row, one more than Beneil Dariush, who also fights on Saturday’s undercard.
2:30: Time it took for Chandler to earn his UFC debut, knocking out Dan Hooker in January. It was the fourth-fastest victory in a UFC debut against a top-10 opponent since the rankings began in 2013. If Chandler wins the title this weekend, he would be the 14th fighter to do so in his first two UFC fights. The list includes Ronda Rousey, Anderson Silva, José Aldo, Dominick Cruz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Fuentes: ESPN Stats & Information y UFC Stats
When Oliveira made his UFC debut on August 1, 2010 …
• Oliveira was the 10th youngest fighter in UFC history (20 years and 288 days).
• Seven of the 12 weight categories currently in the UFC did not yet exist: strawweight, men’s flyweight, women’s flyweight, men’s bantamweight, women’s bantamweight, men’s featherweight, and women’s featherweight.
• Six current UFC champions had yet to make their professional MMA debuts: Francis Ngannou, Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman, Alexander Volkanovski, Deiveson Figueiredo and Rose Namajunas.
• The lightweight champion was Frankie Edgar, who dethroned BJ Penn less than four months earlier and would beat him again in a rematch at the end of the month.
• No woman had ever fought in the UFC.
• The most recent UFC pay-per-view before Oliveira’s debut was UFC 116, in which Brock Lesnar had to come back to defend his heavyweight title against Shane Carwin.
• The number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 was Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna.
• The number one movie in the world was “Inception” starring MMA fan Leonardo DiCaprio.
A look back
Five vs. five
The most recent results of Charles Oliveira
Win: Tony Ferguson (DU, December 12, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Kevin Lee (SUM3, March 14, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Jared Gordon (KO1, November 16, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Nik Lentz (TKO2, May 18, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Win: David Teymur (SUM2, February 2, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Michael Chandler’s Most Recent Results
Win: Dan Hooker (TKO1, January 24, 2021; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Benson Henderson (KO1, Aug. 7, 2020)
Win: Sidney Outlaw (KO1, December 29, 2019)
Loss: Patricio Freire (TKO1, May 11, 2019)
Victoria Brent first (DU, 14 December, 2018)
And the winner is …
“I think it’s going to be a surprisingly close fight,” said former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks, who fought both (against Oliveira in the UFC). “If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Oliveira, it’s that outside of his jiu-jitsu and his skills on the ground, the guy can take a hit. He doesn’t have a glass chin. He’s one of those guys that the more you hit him, The harder it gets, the stronger it gets. Sometimes you see it, the rivals get tired of throwing fists. They get tired of hitting him. “
Read how Brooks and other fighters and coaches analyze the main event.
How to watch the fights
Watch the PPV and all the other fights on ESPN +. Get ESPN + here.
Watch the preliminaries on ESPN Deportes, ESPN or ESPN +. Download the ESPN app | WatchESPN | TV
Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access.
There is also FightCenter, which offers live updates for every UFC card.
PPV (ESPN+), 10 pm ET
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler | Ligero Weight
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush | Peso Ligero
Katlyn Chookagian Vs. Viviane Araujo | Female Fly Weight
Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza | Male Featherweight
Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin | Peso Gallo Masculino
ESPN Sports / ESPN / ESPN +, 8 pm ET
Jacare Souza vs. Andre Muniz | Median Weight
Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy | Male Featherweight
Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko | Female Flyweight
Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett | Peso Mediano
ESPN+, 6:30 pm ET
Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira | Women’s Flyweight
Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz | Male Featherweight
Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano | Light weight
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this preview of the fight.
UFC 262: the best bets for Dariush vs. Ferguson