The five-round main event for the upcoming UFC 262 will be a battle of determination and heart. The official UFC lightweight championship will be fought for with Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler.
This fight is between two top-10 lightweights who have had mixed pasts and have risen from adversity to the highest levels of mixed martial arts. They will now be challenging for one of its most prestigious titles in the world.
Charles Oliveira, Favela-born, began in tournaments at the age of 18 and has taken a long road to this title match-up.
Michael Chandler competed in NCAA D1 wrestling, was a Bellator champion, and now discovers new motivation and determination ahead of the biggest of his life.
Both men started their MMA careers in their early 20s and will be meeting after a combined 25-years of taking knocks in this sport.
UFC Lightweight Championship: Controversy and Legitimacy
“Fool’s gold,” is what Dustin Poirier called the looming lightweight championship battle of Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler. Poirier is currently ranked No. 1 according to the UFC official rankings and Tapology and would have the best claim to fight for the vacant title.
The Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler fight will respectively see No. 3 versus No. 4 at lightweight. The fight was made because Poirier has the best claim to the lightweight title, however, he preferred to have a trilogy with the superstar Conor McGregor, who is ranked No. 6.
Impressively, Oliveira is on an eight-fight win streak, while Chandler has one win in the UFC. The lightweight title currently is vacant since the previous champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, retired undefeated at 29-0, and relinquished the title following his UFC 254 victory over Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov is considered the greatest lightweight of all time.
And coming into the UFC 262 Oliveira vs Chandler fight, the two headliners combined have fought 66 MMA fights but share zero common opponents with Nurmagomedov. Interim champions Gaethje and Poirier had already lost to Nurmagomedov however both are ranked ahead of Oliveira and Chandler.
Ali Abdelaziz, who manages Gaethje, claims the UFC was not interested in putting Gaethje in for a title bout because “The UFC wants a champion who never lost to Khabib. If a guy who lost to Khabib becomes the champion … you need more time to make people forget about Khabib,” according to Talk Sport.
Poirier, who also lost to Nurmagomedov, is already booked, and the UFC isn’t interested in a potential lightweight champion Gaethje, yet. Given this lightweight situation currently; Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler is the best and most legitimate fight that could have been made for a lightweight title.
Road to UFC 262 – “do Bronx” Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira from the Bronx
Charles Oliveira was raised in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Brazil, the Favela. Early in his life, he helped support the family by assisting his mother with selling cheese salads from a trailer, according to BJJ Heroes.
At the age of 12, only eight years before his UFC debut, Oliveira began training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Before his MMA debut, Oliveira won world submission grappling championships in blue-belt competition in his own and absolute weight, plus South American purple-belt tournament champion. He is currently a third-degree black belt.
Oliveira made his MMA debut at just the age of 18. He started in tournament fighting. The young man had won two tournaments in which he had to defeat three men in one night, and one tournament where he had to defeat two men in the same night. He won all these eight tournament fights via submission or TKO.
Charles Oliveira in the UFC
A young Oliveira had cut his teeth in the UFC’s most competitive divisions. Oliveira debuted in the UFC in 2010 as a lightweight at age 20. He was considered one of the top Brazilians to watch for in the future, according to Sherdog. In that time he went 2-2 with 1NC. In 2012 he began cutting more weight as he dropped to featherweight and went 7-5 but missed weight on three occasions. In 2017 Oliveira went back up to lightweight and has now gone 9-1 in the division; winning eight straight since changing his training camp to the legendary Chute Boxe Academy.
Charles Oliveira holds multiple records in the UFC, including the most submission wins in history at 14, and is tied for the most finishes at 16. Oliveira has also received 16 end of the night bonuses, which is the most in UFC history.
“Do Bronx” Oliveira uses a mix of Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He has out-grappled standout grapplers such as Tony Ferguson, Kevin Lee, Clay Guida, Bellator champion Will Brooks, and others. On the feet, one will frequently see Oliveira use a few techniques in each fight. He likes a lead check-hook, front kick (often flying), slam takedown, a ducking under strikes takedown, guillotine as a counter to the takedown, and forward pressure more than anything.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. Now let’s bring this belt home on the 15th,” Oliveira told MMAFighting. “It’s a title fight, the opportunity of my life, something I’ve promised to my community and my parents. It’s time. I don’t care if it’s by knockout or submission or decision, I just want to have my hands raised.”
Oliveira always remembers where he is from, SCMP reported.
“A guy from the favela, from the community, is taking over the world.”
Road to UFC 262 – “Iron” Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler and Mentality Issues
Michael Chandler has competed for some of the world’s most prestigious titles, but says until recently, he never believed in his success, and always fell to second best, he was falling short on huge occasions.
Chandler had competed for the NCAA Division I championship finals two years in a row and came runner up both years. He then moved to MMA and competed in Strikeforce before making his debut in Bellator. In Bellator, he went on a nine-fight tear and picked up the Bellator championship along the way, before going to war with, and losing to, future UFC champion, Eddie Alvarez in a close split-decision. Directly afterward he would lose two more to Will Brooks which were also title fights.
Three title losses in a row after going undefeated.
“Iron” Chandler says he had to get to this point to realize his mentality was the issue, according to SalutemOfficial.
“When I went into college wrestling, I might have told the coaches I’m going to be a national champion … but in my heart, I didn’t truly believe it … you will get to the point of success and mess up,” Chandler told SalutemOfficial.
Michael Chandler learned from his losses and changed the way he began to think. He told Joe Rogan about his new attitude:
“You really have to take extreme ownership of inside your brain, between your ears … Winning, being crazy successful, it didn’t exactly mesh with how I truly saw myself. Until you actually see it in your mind’s eye you can’t actually achieve it … I look at myself like a champion.”
New “Iron” Michael Chandler
Since adopting this attitude, and adopting a child, “Iron” Michael Chandler has gone 10-2, picked up and lost the Bellator title a couple more times, knocked out former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, and knocked out top-ranked lightweight Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 257.
Michael Chandler is an extremely high-level wrestler, but right now he is on a three-fight, first-round knockout streak. He will often utilize takedowns off kicks, hold top control and aim for ground and pound. But more recently he’s been getting huge knockouts off his powerful right hand and constant forward pressure. He stands very low and deep in his stance (similar to a Conor McGregor), which allows him to generate huge power from his strikes, but also will leave him open to leg and calf kicks.
UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler
Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler both function best when they are advancing, both using constant forward pressure. Oliveira has a few tools to win on the feet. Notably, his powerful leg kicks, which he has used more recently.
To leg kicks, Chandler has sometimes shown a weakness, too. Chandler lost via calf-kicks to Brent Primus in 2017 and absorbed multiple leg kicks in his wins over Hooker, Sidney Outlaw, Henderson, and others. Also, the check-hook, which Oliveira frequently uses, Chandler has gotten caught by check-hooks in his fights against Alvarez and Primus. Chandler will be aiming to land his overhand right.
But, Oliveira will sometimes show struggle on the feet to strong punchers. Cub Swanson used a fake low, shifting overhand to knock out Oliveira in 2012, a similar combination (opposite side) that Chandler used to KO Hooker at UFC 257.
Oliviera struggled on the feet and left himself open in his bouts with David Teymur, Lee, and Max Holloway. He developed a shoulder roll and would shoot for takedowns, as a way to counter the heavy puncher, in his victory over Jeremy Stephens. Paul Felder may show the best path to victory for Chandler. Felder was able to secure a takedown, put Oliveira on his back, and utilize ground and pound to earn a TKO victory over Oliveira.
In Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler, they share one common opponent in Will Brooks. In 2017, Oliveira quickly submitted the former Bellator champion in the first few minutes of their bout. Chandler went 0-2 against Brooks in their 2014 fights. Chandler vs Brooks I was a close-fought split decision, mainly contested on the ground exchanging ground and pound. While in Chandler vs Brooks II Chandler was able to secure takedowns early, he wasn’t able to maintain control over the long fight and Brooks won via TKO in the fourth round.
Both fighters will be looking to control the distance and be the leading aggressive pressure fighter. Oliveira must maintain distance and land leg strikes, while Chandler will try to land his huge overhand right. If the fight makes its way to the mat, both fighters will be scrambling to control top position. Oliveira will be aiming for submissions, while Chandler will be aiming to win via ground and pound.
Both men have had their losses and struggles in MMA and will now rise to the occasion, on May 15, and have their chance at UFC gold. In Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler, both men exemplify the definitions of improvement, determination, and heart. Each man had high praises heaped on them early in their careers, began to stall during the mid-points in their career, before finally reaching the apex of where they feel they belong; right at the top, an undisputed champion.
Tale of the Tape: Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler
|Charles Oliveira||Name||Michael Chandler|
|30-8-0 (1 NC)||Record||22-5-0|
|18-8 (1 NC)||UFC Record||1-0|
|5 ft 10 in (178 cm)||Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|74 in (190 cm)||Reach||71 in (180 cm)|
|155 lb (70 kg)||Weight||155 lb (70 kg)|
UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler Full Card
Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler
Tony Ferguson vs Beneil Dariush
Katlyn Chookagian vs Viviane Araújo
Shane Burgos vs Edson Barboza
Ronaldo Souza vs Andre Muniz
Matt Schnell vs Rogério Bontorin
Andrea Lee vs Antonina Shevchenko
Lando Vannata vs Mike Grundy
Jordan Wright vs Jamie Pickett
Gina Mazany vs Priscila Cachoeira
Kevin Aguilar vs Tucker Lutz
Featured Image credit:
Embed from Getty Images