The overarching lesson of UFC 262? Heart may give the fans a story, but sound fundamentals is what makes champions. Take the co-main event involving former UFC Interim Lightweight Champion Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush, for example. While Ferguson has staked his professional reputation on being a warrior who’d happily return from the battlefield on his shield, favouring the unorthodox and the wildly unexpected instead of refining the basics is precisely what has earned him a third consecutive loss; a sentiment that was glaringly obvious today.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Charles Oliveira – the technician from the favelas – who demonstrated the perfect balance of grit, determination, and skill to defeat Bellator transplant Michael Chandler, securing the division title abandoned by Khabib Nurmagomedov post-retirement at UFC 254 in the process.
The opening round presented the classic dilemma of when a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist faces off against a lifelong wrestler: next-level technique versus freakish physicality. After escaping from Chandler’s guillotine attempt as if it weren’t a viable threat, Oliveira quickly forced his opponent into a scenario, anticipated exactly how he’d recover, and quickly took his back. Chandler responded with brute force, slamming their bodies in tandem to shake Oliveira off. At this stage, Oliveira locked up an airtight body triangle and many began counting down the seconds before a submission finish (fun fact: Oliveira has recorded the most submission wins in UFC history – 14).
Physicality briefly overwhelmed technique as Chandler twisted free of said body triangle and got to work pumping those significant strike stats up. Towards the latter half of Round 1, he managed to knock his opponent down with a flush hook, coming within inches of a TKO finish. Thankfully, referee Dan Miragliotta allowed the moment to play out (God knows what would have happened has Herb Dean been officiating). Oliveira successfully weathered the storm, or rather, weathered the devastating bombs being rained upon him. By all accounts, the hostilities had kicked off in fairly even fashion for very different reasons.
Within the first ten seconds of Round 2, Oliveira decided he was leaving nothing to chance. Finding a home for his left hook on Chandler’s chin almost immediately, from there, it was an entirely one-sided affair which eventually saw Charles Do Bronx finish his American counterpart in spectacular fashion before the clock could even tick over to the 20-second mark. The UFC’s vacant lightweight throne was his – a kid from Brazil who was told he’d never walk again had written division history in blood, sweat, and tears at UFC 262.
To the credit of Michael Chandler, despite how efficient and graceful Charles Oliveira appeared under fire, this wasn’t an easy win. The latest development is, however, disturbingly reminiscent of the UFC’s other notable Bellator transplant, Ben Askren:
- Former Bellator champion signs with the UFC and makes some noise.
- Former Bellator champion wins their UFC debut.
- Former Bellator champion is defeated during their sophomore fight at the promotion, providing the opponent with highlight reel material.
What will become of Michael Chandler in his coming few fights at this stage is anyone’s guess. Let’s just hope for the sake of both himself and Bellator’s reputation that there’s a chance to buck the trend.