The UFC is back in action, as the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas plays host to an exciting PPV card. Headlining the event is two Lightweights whom are the unlikeliest of title contenders. One half is Charles Oliveira who debuted in the UFC at 21 years of age back in 2010. More or less, Oliveira would have streaks of wins and losses, along the way grabbing the UFC submission record. Something however clicked in 2018, as the Brazilian rattled off eight straight victories – earning this title shot. As for the other half Michael Chandler, the former Bellator Lightweight Champion jumped ship to the UFC in 2020. He would make a dramatic debut in January of 2021, knocking out the extremely durable Dan Hooker. The debut catapulted him into the title picture and then into a title shot, as Dustin Poirier opted for a trilogy bout against Conor McGregor instead of the belt. No complaint for Chandler, as he has a huge chance to grab UFC gold in his second UFC fight, something that has rarely been done. In what should be a good fight, the winner of this bout just has good feels written all over it.
UFC 262 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for vacant lightweight title – This either goes two ways. Charles Oliveira gets this fight to the floor and submits Michael Chandler or the American cracks and finishes the Brazilian via knockout. I’ll go with the latter. Oliveira is on an amazing run and he’s a long ways from the guy that quit when the times were tough. However, he hasn’t faced a decorated wrestler with legit power like Chandler. He fought a wrestler in Kevin Lee who’s striking is good, but he doesn’t have that fight changing power. Chandler is a whole different animal and I believe the former Bellator Champion is going to realize his dream, beating Oliveira via KO.
155 lbs.: Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush – I for one do not believe that Tony Ferguson is done. Yes, the amount of punishment he’s taken definitely has caught up to a degree. Yes, his takedown defense and getup ability can be stifled by strong grapplers. Yes, Beneil Dariush fits that mold. However, Dariush does slow down in the third and his chin, while better than people credit, can be a problem at times. While I’m not overly confident, I do feel that Ferguson isn’t quite done. I believe he will get taken down, but work off his back like he did against Kevin Lee. Come round three, Ferguson will strike and beat a tired Dariush by TKO.
125 lbs.: Viviane Araujo vs. Katlyn Chookagian – I believe that Katlyn Chookagian has shown evolution to her game since fighting Valentina Shevchenko, adding wrestling. However, her striking is simply putting forth volume with no concern for actually landing. A 34% striking accuracy reflects that. Viviane Araujo is the complete package. She has excellent takedown defense, can strike with volume and power and can wrestle – showing off to be physically strong. Despite being the underdog, I believe she gets it done rather easily via decision.
145 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Shane Burgos – Part of me see’s Shane Burgos fighting into Edson Barboza’s style. The other part believes he learned a lesson against Josh Emmett. To me, this is a coin flip. Burgos offers pressure, pace and striking volume. He lacks striking defense. Edson Barboza is a solid striker, who has some of the best leg kicks in the UFC and offers a very dynamic arsenal of strikes. At Featherweight, he looks to have a solid base to defense takedowns and could make noise here if he can build off his victory over Makwan Amirkhani. However, I’m going with Burgos. I think the volume and pace alone could be trouble for Barboza ala the Michael Johnson fight. I do caution though Burgos’s love for getting hit and Barboza’s counter striking. Yet, give me Burgos to win via decision in what could be the Fight of the Century.
125 lbs.: Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin – At first I was on Rogerio Bontorin, but between missing weight and looking completely disinterested at the weigh ins, give me Matt Schnell. I’m not confident in this prediction, but Schnell has shown the striking prowess and cardio to beat most. It’s his durability that has cost him from rising up the ranks. Let’s hope it holds up.
UFC 262 Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Andre Muniz vs. Ronaldo Souza – While Ronaldo Souza is long in the tooth, the man is still a BJJ wizard with good striking abilities. His chin is no longer cast iron, but I don’t believe it’s iffy. I mean, the man suffered a knockout loss to Kevin Holland, his first since 2017. Throw in the fact that Andre Muniz isn’t known for his power or striking, and Souza should be relatively fine. The man has fought killers his whole career and this is by far his ‘easiest’ opponent since maybe Bristol Marunde in 2012.
145 lbs.: Mike Grundy vs. Lando Vannata – ‘Groovy’ Lando Vannata looked in phenomenal shape heading into his Featherweight debut. The problem that lies here is that Vannata’s struggles have comes from those who wrestled. And to be fair, none of the opponents he faced has the physical strength and wrestling of Mike Grundy. To me, that is the writing on the wall. So with that, give me Grundy to win via decision.
125 lbs.: Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko – If either of these women commit to a heavy wrestling game, the route to victory is clear. However knowing which one will, is another story. On the feet, I actually favor Andrea Lee. Her striking volume is always high and she has good defense, mostly fighting moving backwards and countering her foes. And despite being on a three fight losing streak, Lee is two split decisions going her way from fighting for a title. Albeit I see this fight being another close one, give me the Texas native ‘KGB’ Lee to win via decision.
185 lbs.: Jamie Pickett vs. Jordan Wright – What to trust? The iffy chin of Jordan Wright or the lack of striking volume of Jamie Pickett. Honestly, part me of me thinks that Pickett just needs one clean strike and another was sort of impressed with Wright lasting as long as he did against Joaquin Buckley. You know what, give me Wright to win via decision.
UFC 262 Early Prelims Card On Fight Pass/ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Gina Mazany – Although Gina Mazany looked solid in her Flyweight debut, showing off excellent wrestling and her pure physical strength, I still don’t trust her chin. At Bantamweight it was a problem and at Flyweight, it could essentially be worse. Now, Priscila Cachoeira probably will succumb to takedowns, but her striking is good. She’s got some pop and if there are any moments on the feet, I really do believe she hurts and finishes Mazany. So there it is, I’m calling upset. Cachoeira via TKO!
145 lbs.: Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz – I feel like the combination of Tucker Lutz dropping down to Featherweight and Kevin Aguilar coming into this on a three fight losing streak, has me a little flustered with this prediction. In the end though, I do believe that the former LFA champion Aguilar will pull through. His takedown defense is superb, but if I’m being honest, he could use a tick up in striking volume. Regardless, give me the Texas native to stave off the UFC pink slip, winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano – This just seems like a typical Christos Giagos fight. Win the first two rounds spamming takedowns, gas out and lose the third – win the fight 29-28. I expect nothing less…