UFC 262 is in the books and man what a card that was! The post-Khabib Nurmagomedov era at lightweight has begun, and Charles Oliveira is the new champion in absolutely enthralling, unforgettable fashion.
Round one was remarkable. Michael Chandler had Oliveira in a guillotine and Charles got out of it and eventually took Michael’s back. Even with the body triangle, Chandler powered out of trouble and then hurt Oliveira with his trademark blitzing punches. Then in round two Chandler gets floored with a left hook. He gets up and eats a right hand and then as he’s wobbling and trying to run away from ‘Do Bronx,’ another left hook puts him down again. The follow-up punches were not even needed. We have known about the dangers of Oliveira on the mat, but his striking has improved so drastically that he’s been racking up the knockouts as of late. He battled through the type of adversity that historically caused him to crumble and turned things around so damn fast after how catastrophically round one concluded.
To win the UFC title in your 28th appearance and with so many inconsistent performances and weight jumps (and weight misses) is a level of perseverance and determination that you have to admire. His celebration straight towards Anik, Rogan, and Cormier and then Dana White was priceless and demonstrates how beautiful watching success at the highest level can be.
It’s a tough one for Chandler to take. He must have felt he was on the cusp of winning UFC gold in just his second appearance inside the Octagon, but he didn’t quite get the finish and paid the price.
I know one thing: I can’t wait for Charles Oliveira to fight the Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor winner. Khabib or no Khabib, 155 lbs is in such a good place with the surplus of talent from top to bottom.
- Beneil Dariush basically big brothered Tony Ferguson in largely similar fashion to how Charles Oliveira prevailed just a few months ago. If Oliveira almost wrecked Ferguson’s arm, Dariush just about smoked out Tony’s left knee with a tight heel hook attempt in round two. Of course, ‘El Cucuy’ dare not tap because he wouldn’t be Tony Ferguson. It was a one-sided grappling clinic by Dariush, who notches his biggest win to date to put him ever so close to a title shot. Then he had a weird post-fight interview that included railing against Marxist ideologies and then humorously calling out Elon Musk. I guess he really wants that Tesla! I figured he was calling him out for that tragic SNL guest host appearance but I was wrong. Whatever. Fighters are a special type of athlete.
- Ferguson is completely done at a high-level. Just zero offense of consequence over his last two fights and his losing streak began with a massive beating vs. Justin Gaethje. He’ll need a serious step down in competition and given it’s lightweight I’m not sure how confidently I’d pick him against anyone below him in the rankings.
- Rogerio Bontorin missed weight (and he’s not even a bantamweight) and lost a chunk of his purse to Matt Schnell, but he didn’t lose the fight. The crowd was booing for no good reason but they were probably just spoiled as I thought it was still a good scrap. Unfortunately for Schnell, while he may have landed plenty with his combo work on Bontorin, he was noticeably hurt in at least two of the three rounds by Rogerio’s striking. That made the difference and Bontorin gets the win to bounce back from his tough loss to Kai Kara-France.
- You know it was a great card when a Katlyn Chookagian fight actually has a considerable amount of action. I mean it still wasn’t a ton but still it was back-and-forth. Viviane Araujo once again had cardio issues and kept loading up on her punches far too much, and her big chance to win in round two with full mount and a guillotine attempt did not result in a finish. The UFC production team tried to see if Chookagian had tapped but I didn’t see it and I don’t see a good case that she did tap. In round three it was all Chookagian and she gets the win (but not 30-27 levels of deserved like that one judge had it) to remain one of the top contenders at women’s flyweight.
- Edson Barboza and Shane Burgos put on a fight that arguably exceeded high expectations. You wanted fireworks and you got fireworks. It was a high-level, technical, and brutal display of striking that ended with Barboza getting a delayed reaction TKO of Burgos in the final round. Burgos ate a left and a right hand and then everything just slowly shut down and he fell back and was done for. An unusual ending but wow what a war that was. Barboza was sharp in round one, Burgos had a good round two, but Edson’s remarkably accurate and devastating kicks and punches proved too much for ‘Hurricane’ Shane. That was just awesome to watch and I’ll be buzzing about this one for awhile.
- HOLY SHIT! Jacare Souza is a BJJ legend and he’d never been submitted in MMA. That is, until he fought Andre Muniz. A nasty armbar snapped Jacare’s right arm so loudly that you could hear it live loud and clear. One of the gnarliest submissions I’ve ever seen and it’s ON Jacare Souza, not courtesy of him. Souza is obviously done at a high-level but Muniz just did something no other MMA opponent has ever accomplished.
- It was a successful debut for Lando Vannata at 145 lbs, as he stuffed most of Mike Grundy’s 20 takedown attempts and outstruck him to win a split decision. The one judge who had it 30-27 Grundy should be disqualified from judging ever again. Grundy had his moments on the feet with single power shots, but as Din Thomas noted he seems to either be all-wrestling or all-striking, which gave Vannata the opportunity to pick his spots and make the right reads. Really good display from ‘Groovy’ Lando.
- Jordan Wright channeled his inner Travis Browne and rocked Jamie Pickett to the core with anti-takedown elbows to the side of the head. Wright is known for quick finishes and he turned those elbows into an onslaught of more big shots to get the 64-second knockout. Wright had a rough go of it against Joaquin Buckley but ‘The Beverly Hills Ninja’ just smashed Pickett in there.
- Andrea Lee had a triangle on Antonina Shevchenko for damn near the entirety of round two, but Shevchenko was able to survive... then Lee attacked the arm and that was it. ‘KGB’ ends her three-fight losing streak with a vital win over the sister of UFC women’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko. If Valentina is a physical force, Antonina... is not.
- Gina Mazany was in control of Priscila Cachoeira with her takedowns until she wasn’t. A questionable stand-up midway through round two gave Cachoeira the chance to strike, and Mazany was completely out of gas. A bloodied and exhausted Mazany ate power shots aplenty, turned her back away from the Brazilian, and eventually was stopped standing. Not sure that was a good decision by Beltran to stand them up but it’s not like Mazany was going to magically not be tired entering the third round. Cachoeira has back-to-back knockouts, which never looked in the cards given how her UFC career began.
- Tucker Lutz’s UFC debut may have doubled as Kevin Aguilar’s departure. Lutz was lighting up Aguilar throughout the bout with accurate counterpunching and leg kicks, not to mention takedowns in each round. Aguilar gave it a valiant comeback effort in the final round but he never seriously hurt Lutz and the decision went Tucker’s way.
- I love me some D’Arce chokes and Christos Giagos pulled one off to put the returning Sean Soriano to sleep early in round two. Giagos was struggling with Soriano’s striking in round one and was hurt on multiple occasions, but getting this to the ground was a must for him and that’s how he was able to rally for the W. Giagos called out Donald Cerrone for his “retirement fight” and... sure, why not?