While highly anticipated bouts such as Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz and Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan have been moved to future cards there is still a lot to like about UFC 262, headlined by an intriguing Lightweight Title bout.
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
With Dustin Poirier pursuing a trilogy fight with Conor McGregor, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira and “Iron” Michael have been given the opportunity to square off in the Main Event for the Lightweight Title which was Vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov after his retirement.
Oliveira enters the championship bout with an eight-fight win streak dating back to his submission victory over Clay Guida at UFC 225. Given how cut-throat the UFC Lightweight division has been in recent years an 8-fight win streak is nothing to sneeze at but under closer inspection this streak loses some shine.
Among Oliveira’s victims during this streak there is only one Lightweight fighter ranked inside the top 10, Tony Ferguson.
Oliveira’s comprehensive victory against Ferguson is the most impressive victory of his career but even this has some question marks over it. Since he was battered by Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 Ferguson has looked a shadow of his former self, it doesn’t help that he is getting up there in age.
Brazil stand up! 🇧🇷
— UFC (@ufc) May 14, 2021
Regardless, Chandler will have to be wary of Oliveira’s lethal submission game; Oliveira won by submission 5 times during that 8-fight win streak. While Oliveira’s stand-up game is solid, he would have to be wary about trading with a power puncher like Chandler.
Similar questions can be raised about Chandler’s record. Chandler is coming off 6 wins in his last 7 fights. Having only recently transferred to the UFC its difficult to determine how much stock to put into his victories at Bellator.
However, Chandler was ultra-impressive in his UFC debut against Dan hooker and showcased the ferocity of his striking. Chandler only needs one opening to put the lights out and it wasn’t too long ago that Oliveira was finished by hard striker Paul Felder.
This fight seems destined to be decided by one lapse in judgement; either Oliveira will get caught with a bomb on his feet or Chandler’s submission defence will be broken on the ground. I think Chandler’s pressure will ultimately be too much for Oliveira.
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
Tony Fergusons UFC stock has spiralled following his consecutive defeats to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. Prior to his fight for the interim Lightweight Title Ferguson was the holder of a remarkable 12 fight UFC win streak dating all the way back to 2013 and one of the most feared men in the UFC. Is Ferguson still the fighter he was before his fight with Gaethje?
Ferguson has absorbed an enormous amount of punishment throughout his career. While his fight with Gaethje is the most prominent example of this he also took extreme damage during fights against Anthony Pettis and Rafael Dos Anjos.
It could be that all this punishment is catching up to Ferguson. Coupled with his age, 37, it might be the case that Ferguson has been in the game too long and took many shots doing so.
Having said all that, Ferguson is one of the UFC’s most unpredictable fighters with perhaps the most varied and dangerous toolkit of any fighter on the roster. Ferguson’s inventive array of submission skills may be where he can find the most success against Dariush.
— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) May 13, 2021
Dariush has overcome what was an inconsistent UFC record to chalk up 6 straight wins in the Lightweight Division. Like Ferguson Dariush has a diverse range toolkit with both his striking and submission skills notable. This means he should have the skills to hang with Ferguson in both stand-up engagements and on the mat.
Dariush’s win streak has come against respectable competition with his most impressive win coming in his last fight against Diego Ferreira. There are no huge names here however and this fight against Ferguson is definitely a step up.
As sad as it is to say, it appears that Ferguson’s career may be coming to an end sooner rather than later. His many wars in the UFC appear to have taken its toll.
You would think he will struggle against a man 5 years his junior who is currently in the best form of his career. Dariush should be able to outwork his battle-weary opponent but don’t be surprised if Ferguson has one more trick up his sleeve.
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Fanduel.
Image By: Andrius Petrucenia