UFC 274 had its highs and lows.
The lows hit hard and early with UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira missing weight on Friday. Then, on Saturday, the card took another hit when the promotion announced that Donald Cerrone was medically unfit to fight.
The pay-per-view portion of the card was a rollercoaster as well. Randy Brown opened things with a solid win over Khaos Williams, but the event then took a dip when Ovince Saint Preux met Mauricio Rua. Things then surged with Michael Chandler’s potential knockout of the year of Tony Ferguson, but the air left the room with the Carla Esparza vs. Rose Namajunas contest. However, things ended on a very high note when Oliveira ran through Justin Gaethje in the main event.
Read on for the winner and losers from UFC 274, which took place at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Charles Oliveira: Charles Oliveira seemed to shrug off the comments Justin Gaethje made about him being a quitter in the lead up to UFC 274. However, once their PPV headlining bout began, it seemed as if Oliveira might have taken those jibes more personally than he let on because he fought Gaethje with a level of violence that, to be honest, bordered on reckless.
Oliveira, who dropped the lightweight title when the fight began because he missed weight on Friday, fought a Gaethje style fight and he came out on top when he forced Gaethje to tap to a rear-naked choke at the 3:22 mark of the first stanza.
The Brazilian is now unbeaten in his past 11 fights and riding a stretch of three straight finishes. In fact, during his winning streak, he has gone the distance once.
Oliveira might not have the title around his waist tonight, but he is, without a doubt, the top lightweight competing in the UFC in 2022.
Carla Esparza: It wasn’t pretty, but Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas and regained the UFC strawweight title on Saturday night. There wasn’t much action in this fight, but the threat of Esparza’s wrestling seemed to keep Namajunas from engaging and that reluctance opened the door for Esparza to get the win.
Michael Chandler: Michael Chandler did a lot of living in 5:17 at UFC 274. He got caught early by the strikes of his opponent, Tony Ferguson, and then put himself in danger by fighting with his ego instead of his head. Then, about halfway through the first round, he got his wits back and fought to his strengths, taking the fight to the mat and keeping it there.
Then, just 17 seconds into the second stanza, he scored one of the most violent front kick knockouts in UFC history when he landed what was essentially a punt to the chin of Ferguson. The impact put Ferguson down and out for a scary long time.
It’s only May, but it’s going to take a knockout I’m not sure I want to see to top Chandler’s for KO of the year.
Randy Brown: Randy Brown did not have a great first round against Khaos Williams. However, he looked like a different fighter in the final 10 minutes of the fight. He used his length well and fought behind his jab to great effect. Brown looked more comfortable with his skills in the second and third round. I think this performance could be a turning point for the 31-year-old Brown, but he has to trust in his striking.
Francisco Trinaldo: Francisco Trinaldo competed as a UFC lightweight from 2012 through 2020. That run at 155 pounds ended in July 2020 when he came in overweight for a fight opposite Jai Herbert. Trinaldo won that fight and then moved to welterweight. Now 43, Trinaldo is on a two-fight winning streak at 170 pounds after defeating Danny Roberts at UFC 274.
Brandon Royval: Brandon Royval had a rough go in the early going of his flyweight bout against Matt Schnell. He got rocked by strikes AND fought off a submission attempt before locking up a choke of his own for the win. Royval is now on a two-fight winning streak.
Matt Schnell: Matt Schnell deserves props for staying on the UFC 274 fight card. The 32-year-old flyweight lost his mother during training camp for this event.
Andre Fialho: Andre Fialho has now fought twice in the past month. His record during that time is 2-0 with two first-round knockout wins. His total fight time in those bouts is a little over seven minutes.
Fialho has fought seven times since January 2021. He has six knockout wins over that period.
The 28-year-old Brazilian is fun to watch and eager to compete
Tracy Cortez: Tracey Cortez extender her professional MMA winning streak to 10 straight with a win over Melissa Gatto on Saturday. Cortez fixed the problem she had on the scale in her previous flyweight outing and she showed a lot of confidence in her grappling skills in this one by being unafraid to tangle with Gatto on the mat.
Cortez only fought once per year in 2020 and 2021.
C.J. Vergara: After his last outing, I wrote of C.J. Vergara, “Vergara, who made his UFC debut at UFC 268, might kick himself in the butt after this fight as he had some success in the third stanza after not really pushing himself during the first 10 minutes. I expect he’ll look better in his next outing. The experience of this fight will pay off for him.”
Vergara did not have those problems in his second bout in the UFC. He gave Kleydson Rodrigues, who was a massive favorite, a run for his money and put him in some bad spots, especially in the second stanza.
This was an outstanding performance from Vergara.
Kleydson Rodrigues: Kleydson Rodrigues’ UFC debut took place at UFC 274 opposite C.J. Vergara. He was a massive favorite and during the first round, it looked as if he was going to get the win over C.J. Vergara via his varied striking techniques.
Things went south for Rodrigues in the second stanza as he was on the mat for most of that round and looked to be in deep trouble at some points. However, he stayed calm and focused and fought out of the bad position and put some damage on Vergara at the end of the round.
Rodrigues might lose some of the hype he had with the loss, but he still looked pretty good in this fight. He’s someone to watch.
Lupita Godinez: Lupita Godinez earned herself a dominant win at UFC 274 and with that, her first UFC winning streak. A talented wrestler, Godinez fought to her strengths against Ariane Carnelossi, but she added some new wrinkles to her game and that included improved striking on her feet, ground-and-pound and transitions between her striking to her wrestling.
I’m not 100 percent as sold on Godinez as UFC commentator Joe Rogan was during his post-fight interview with the 28-year-old, but she showed a lot of growth in this outing and if Godinez can keep making progress and shoring up her weaker spots, she will progress up the strawweight ranks quickly.
Conor McGregor: Both Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira mentioned Conor McGregor’s name after their wins on Saturday night. For a man who has not won a lightweight fight since November 2016, McGregor’s name still carries weight and importance, but more than that, it carries with it the opportunity to earn a big PPV check. McGregor might not be the fighter he used to be, but he is still a draw and that means a lot in a sport that underpays its athletes.
Justin Gaethje: Justin Gaethje spent a lot of time trying to convince himself that Charles Oliveira was a quitter. He found out otherwise 3:22 into the first round of his matchup against Oliveira when he tapped out to a rear-naked choke.
Rose Namajunas: It felt like Rose Namajunas was too in her head in this contest. The first loss to Carla Esparza and the way Zhang Weili racked up takedowns against her at UFC 268 might have been the reason Namajunas refused to engage Esparza. Whatever the reason for Namajunas’ performance and loss, it feels as if this defeat is going to weigh heavy on her and her team.
Maurício Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux: Age catches up with fighters and that happened a while ago for Mauricio Rua. As for Ovince Saint Preux, even though he won, the win felt like a squandered opportunity.
Khaos Williams: Khaos Williams’ two-fight winning streak ended on Saturday with a loss to Randy Brown. Williams only landed 33 percent of his significant strikes during this contest, which his lowest landing percentage while under the UFC banner. Williams has power, but he has to improve on his range if he wants to find success in the UFC’s welterweight division.
Cameron VanCamp: As the UFC broadcast noted more than once, Cameron VanCamp was not protecting his chin. He paid for that by being on the wrong side of a knockout loss to Andre Fialho.
Melissa Gatto: Melissa Gatto picked up her first career loss on Saturday in dropping a decision to Tracy Cortez. Gatto is a talented submission artist, but Cortez nullified her opponent’s grappling skills throughout this fight.
The lesson Gatto should take away from this setback is that she needs to develop all of her MMA skills if she wants to move forward.
Gatto just turned 26, so she has time to develop.
Ariane Carnelossi: Ariane Carnelossi is a physically strong fighter, but it feels like she relies too much on that strength at the cost of technique and skills and that cost her dearly at UFC 274.