Charles Oliveira is the new UFC lightweight champion. He earned that title with a TKO win over Michael Chandler in the early going of the second round of their UFC 262 main event matchup.
With his title winning finish, Oliveira moved his winning streak to nine straight fights — all but one being a stoppage victory — and set the record for most stoppages in UFC history with 17.
Heading into this fight, Chandler labeled Oliveira a quitter. During the scrap, the UFC commentary team questioned how Oliveira would deal with the adversity he faced during the first round against Chandler. Oliveira responded by blitzing his opponent and handing him his fourth career knockout loss.
Oliveira addressed that talk at the post-fight press conference.
“When I come to fight and people try to get in my head, they don’t understand that was eight fights ago. I come here to win, I don’t come to play. That was the past, this is now.” Oliveira said.
The new champ is right. At 31, Oliveira seems to have put everything together and hit his stride. He earned his shot at a UFC title through hard work and a long unbeaten streak. His performance against Chandler should earn him respect and put to rest the idea that he is a front-runner. If his win at UFC 262 doesn’t accomplish that, the victory earned Oliveira the title of “UFC lightweight champion” and that alone should be enough to silence his detractors.
Read on for the winners and losers from UFC 262.
Charles Oliveira: It took Charles Oliveira over 10 years of fighting with the UFC to earn his first UFC title fight. He had his difficulties during that time, and in 2017 he reluctantly moved from featherweight to lightweight. At the time Oliveira made that move his record stood at 21-7-0-1. He won his first bout back at 155 pounds and lost his second. The Brazilian 155-pounder hasn’t loss since.
I’m not sure if the move to lightweight solved Oliveira’s problems, but he’s been unstoppable for the past three years. His winning streak is now at nine straight and all but one of those victories has come by stoppage. The one fight where Oliveira went the distance was his 2020 win over Tony Ferguson, and all three judges gave him that victory by scores of 30-26.
At 31, Charles Oliveira is the UFC lightweight champion, which is pretty impressive since he was 10-8-0-1 before he started his current winning streak with a submission win over Clay Guida in June 2018.
Beneil Dariush: Beneil Dariush did not mess around at the start of his bout opposite Tony Ferguson. Dariush was very aggressive with his striking and he put as much pressure on Ferguson as he could. He closed distance well and scored an early takedown. Dariush repeated that approach in the second and third rounds. By the time the fight ended Dariush had scored three takedowns, racked up 12:15 of control time and more than doubled Ferguson’s total landed strikes.
Dariush took the fight 30-27 on all three scorecards. I don’t know how many new fans Dariush picked up with this performance, but he dominated Ferguson in every way, even coming close to a submission win.
I doubt Dariush’s win will earn him a title fight eliminator in his next outing, but Ferguson was ranked No. 5 entering this event and Michael Chandler was ranked No. 4, so it’s possible that Dariush could be matched up opposite Chandler. Whatever the case, Dariush should get a shot at a top-five ranked opponent in his next bout.
Edson Barboza: Edson Barboza is one of those fighters we will all miss when he’s gone. The 35-year-old looked fantastic against Shane Burgos at UFC 262. His striking was fast and accurate, and he did a marvellous job mixing up his techniques and targets. With his knockout win over Burgos, Barboza earned the first back-to-back wins of his career since he won three in a row in 2016-17. Both those wins came at featherweight — a weight division Barboza put on notice after his win over Burgos.
Andre Muniz: As Andre Muniz and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza made their way to the octagon, UFC commentators, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier seemed offended that Muniz had the audacity to claim his grappling was better than that of Souza’s. On Saturday, Muniz lived up to that claim, at least for one night when he became the first man in MMA history to defeat Souza via submission when he forced the fight to a close via armbar.
Lando Vannata: Lando Vannata has always been an exciting fighter. However, he has not always been a successful fighter. Vannata had a UFC lightweight record of 3-5-2 heading into UFC 262, which marked his first contest at 145 pounds. Vannata began his featherweight run with a decision win over Mike Grundy on Saturday.
Vannata’s takedown defense was impressive as was his footwork, movement and output. Vannata is only 29 and with that, he has a chance to put things together at 145. He started off on the right foot at UFC 262.
Jordan Wright: Jordan Wright bounced back from his first career loss in a big way. Joaquin Buckley knocked him out in November, which ended Wright’s streak of 11 stoppages in 11 victories (with one no contest) with a second-round knockout. Wright perhaps looking to put that in the rear-view mirror, assaulted Jamie Pickett with elbows to the head against the cage and then caught him with a knee to the head and a litany of ground strikes to end things at the 64-second mark.
Wright had his foot to the floor from the moment the fight started, and his pursuit of the finish when he had Pickett hurt was impressive.
Priscila Cachoeira: Priscila Cachoeira began her UFC career with a 0-3 record. He saved her job with a big knockout win over Shana Dobson in February 2020. She locked up another upset victory on Saturday when she scored a knockout late in the second round over Gina Mazany. Mazany exhausted herself on the mat and a standup from the referee allowed Cachoeira to show her cardio and striking were better than that of her opponent.
Tucker Lutz: The broadcast team said Kevin Aguilar had prepared for Lutz’s wrestling. With that, it might have been a surprise that Lutz opened up with good striking and showing a nice mix of techniques before he took the fight to the mat.
Lutz dominated the first and second rounds with his striking and wrestling, but when Aguilar opened up in the third to look for a knockout, Lutz seemed a bit too eager to stand in and take shots from a desperate opponent. Outside of that, Lutz’s offensive and defensive striking game was nice and his wrestling added to his well-rounded game. A solid UFC debut from Lutz.
Christos Giagos: Christos Giagos did not have a good first round against Sean Soriano at UFC 262. He got touched up by the striking of his opponent, but he showed some slick grappling skills when the fight briefly hit the mat. Those grappling skills served him well in the second round when Giagos took the fight to the mat and locked up a D’Arce choke that put his opponent to sleep. Giagos put the first round behind him, reset and came back for a spectacular win. Nice work.
Jake Paul: For living in the heads of the UFC 262 fans who were chanting his name during the pay-per-view portion of the card.
Michael Chandler: Michael Chandler earned his first UFC title shot with one (impressive) victory under the UFC banner. The three-time Bellator champ knocked out Dan Hooker, and the UFC awarded him with a shot at the vacant title opposite Charles Oliveira.
Chandler had his moments in the first round. He overcame giving up his back to his opponent, who has the most submission wins in UFC history, and looked to be close to finishing Oliveira late in the first stanza as he teed off on Oliveira who was desperately trying to grab Chandler’s legs for takedown from his knees.
The second round was a different story. Oliveira ended the fight in the early moments of that round with powerful and accurate strikes of his own.
After the loss, the 35-year-old Chandler said he would have the UFC title in the next 12 months. With how stacked the 155-pound division is at the top I don’t know if that claim will work out for Chandler, but I know the division is more exciting and deeper with the former Bellator champ in the mix.
Tony Ferguson: It’s hard to tell where Tony Ferguson is at this point in his career. Now on a three-fight losing skid after starting his MMA run with a 25-3 record, we’re left to wonder what’s next for Ferguson. Have all the bloody battles Ferguson took part in caught up with him? Did his freewheeling training keep him from developing an all-around fight game? Or has time simply caught up with a 37-year-old fighter? That’s a question I can’t answer, but what I know is Tony Ferguson is not the same fighter he was when he went 12-0 in the UFC between October 2013 and June 2019.
Matt Schnell: Matt Schnell would have been well served to put a lot of pressure on Rogerio Bontorin and put the cardio of his opponent to the test. Bontorin, normally a 125-pounder, came in at 137 for this bantamweight contest, so he might have been in poor shape for this bout. Instead, Schnell let the fight come to him and Bontorin walked away with the win.
Shane Burgos: Shane Burgos showed his toughness and tenacity against Edson Barboza. Burgos fared well with his strong boxing, but Barboza was too fast and too accurate. When the end came it was Burgos’ body, not his will, that failed. A delayed reaction after a blow to the head put Burgos down and out. The knockout setback put Burgos on the first losing skid of his career.
Ronaldo Souza: I don’t know if UFC 262 marked the last time Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza stepped inside the octagon, but if it is, let’s remember him as one of the most dangerous grapplers in MMA history. Souza was one of those competitors who were always one fight away from a UFC title fight, but couldn’t catch that last break.
Mike Grundy: Mike Grundy relies on his wrestling skills as a fighter. After his decision loss to Lando Vannata at UFC 262, Grundy might want to think about trusting his striking more. Grundy attempted 20 takedowns and only landed three, but when he landed with heavy strikes, he snapped Vannata’s head back more than once. Perhaps this bout will serve as a learning experience for Grundy and he’ll balance his offense a bit better going forward.
Gina Mazany: Gina Mazany did a marvellous job of using her wrestling skills to take Priscila Cachoeira to the mat, but that ability also set up her downfall on Saturday. With Mazany not advancing position on the mat, referee Mike Beltran stood up the two fighters in the second. Once back on the feet, Mazany looked exhausted. That allowed Cachoeira the time and space she needed to close the show with her striking.
Kevin Aguilar: Kevin Aguilar left himself too open to the striking and wrestling f his opponent, Tucker Lutz during the first 10 minutes of their featherweight scrap. Aguilar did up the ante in the third, but he wasted some of that time by going for a takedown when he needed a stoppage to win the fight. With the loss, Aguilar is on an 0-4 run. His most recent win was a 2019 decision over Enrique Barzola.
Joe Rogan: Joe Rogan is not a doctor. He needs to stop diagnosing injuries during fights.
Rogerio Bontorin: Rogerio Bontorin took his fight against Matt Schnell on short notice. Normally a flyweight, Bontorin came in heavy for this bantamweight contest, which takes away most of the shine of his decision victory over Schnell.
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo: If this fight did anything, it pointed out the massive gap in talent between 125-pound women’s champion Valentina Shevchenko and the rest of the division. Chookagian entered the contest as the No. 2 ranked fighter in the division and Araujo was No. 7.
Andrea Lee: Andrea Lee had a good night on Saturday. She looked like she was stronger than her opponent, Antonina Shevchenko, and her grappling was much sharper. Lee locked on a triangle early in the second round and held hat technique for most of the round. With time ticking down, Lee found the armbar and forced the tap. The submission win ended a three-fight losing skid.
If there was a negative in this win for Lee, it was that she seemed unfocused or confused as to how she should finish the submission. Lee had many options to increase the pressure of the triangle, but she never set and pursued one of them and that leaves one to wonder what would have happened in the third if Shevchenko had survived.
Sean Soriano: Sean Soriano’s first UFC run saw him go 0-3. Six years after that stint ended, Soriano returned to the octagon to face Christos Giagos at UFC 262. The time away served him well as he dominated the first round with a nasty striking game that was based around patience. Soriano looked as if he was on his way to a win, but Giagos pulled off a stunning upset victory by choking Soriano out early in the second round. Soriano looked greatly improved in the first round and he should get more than a cup of coffee in his second sting with the UFC.