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UFC 262: Oliveira vs. Chandler
#UFC262 MMA Betting Preview
Charles "Do Bronx" Oliveira vs. "Iron" Michael Chandler is the night's main event. One of the two will leave Saturday night with the vacant lightweight title after Khabib Nurmagomedov officially announced his retirement. Those are some big shoes to fill, but both combatants, you could argue, deserve to be titleholders in one of the most exciting divisions.
The card features one of the closest matchups we've seen in some time from top to bottom, as the largest favorite sits at around -200, while all other fights are tight on odds. After weigh-ins, all fights are on, so we have a stacked card featuring 12 matchups in front of the live crowd out in Houston. Giddy up.
- DATE: SATURDAY 05/15/21
- BROADCAST: PAY PER VIEW – Prelims: ESPN
- VENUE: Toyota Center
- LOCATION: Houston, Texas
- # of MATCHES: 12
MAIN CARD TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE BOUT 155LBS: #3 CHARLES OLIVEIRA 30-8 VS #4 MICHAEL CHANDLER 22-5
Michael Chandler put himself in a great position very early in his UFC career. After signing, he's remained fight-ready throughout. He made the trek to Fight Island to serve as a backup, then followed that up by knocking out a very durable Dan Hooker in just over two minutes as the co-main to Poirier and McGregor at UFC 257. As Poirier opted for the trilogy with McGregor rather than fighting for the belt this weekend, in steps Chandler, who looks to add another belt to his collection.
Across from him will be the extremely dangerous Charles Oliveira, who has earned this shot after stringing together eight wins in a row, all by finish. Oliveira makes his 27th walk to the octagon and looks to extend his run while achieving championship status for the first time in his career. This is a big moment for the 31-year-old. These will be the brightest lights he's ever been under. Although Chandler is new to the UFC crowd, it isn't his first rodeo by any means. Chandler won the Bellator lightweight title three times and defended the belt on six occasions across his reigns. What we will see here is the same tactic that we always see from Oliveira. He immediately brings the fight and closes as quickly as possible. He looks to take the dominant position in close to avoid taking shots from a distance. Chandler thrives when the fight closes, and with his smaller frame, he loads up on inside shots. Either that or he's slamming his opponent to the mat to use his NCAA Division I wrestling base, where he achieved All-American status.
Both these guys are at their best early on in their fights, and both tend to slow the longer the fights go. Chandler’s aggressive chain wrestling usually wears his opponents down, opening up spots to rain down. In this match, Oliveira may welcome the fight to the mat, where he’s known to go to work with the submissions. This fight could seriously go either way. It's all about who scores early and often.
Although Oliveira is on an amazing tear as of late, I've seen him quit on more than one occasion when he gets himself into a predicament. Chandler, on the other hand, in my opinion, hasn't come this far, to just come this far. He has a heart of a champion and just no quit in him. Heck, we watched him have that nerve injury in his ankle and attempt to walk back out there on one leg in his fight against Brent Primus, which he eventually avenged. I believe this is Michael Chandler's time.
Prediction: Michael Chandler
Bets: Michael Chandler +114, Oliveira/Chandler U2.5 -165
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: #5 TONY FERGUSON 22-5 VS #9 BENEIL DARIUSH 20-4-1
Tony looks to be extremely fired up coming into this one and has some extra motivation after finding out Dariush helped Gaethje with his fight against Ferguson last May. In that fight, we witnessed Ferguson take a career-changing beatdown for 4+ rounds until the ref finally stepped in to end it. He followed up that fight and looked to get back in the win column quickly but lost his second fight in a row for the first time in his career against this weekend's main event title challenger Oliveira. Ferguson took it on just over three weeks' notice for that fight, had a short camp, and just looked flat. After regrouping, setting up some time with Freddie Roach, and a full fight camp to boot, Ferguson will be at his best, and as we've seen this fight week, the fans will absolutely be in his corner. They've been fired up for Ferguson all week.
The embedded series has shown Dariush, for the most part, casually walking around with his very pregnant wife alongside everywhere he goes, seeming very calm as he heads into the biggest match of his career. Now Dariush is a very skilled fighter who can compete with his opponents wherever the fight goes. He’s now won six straight, with his last win a split decision over Diego Ferreira back in February. Dariush usually gets the most of his opponent but tends to walk forward and take shots to close. It's proven successful over this run, but against Tony, a guy who hasn't folded ever after 30 pro fights, it could be risky. I don’t believe Tony is done just yet. The fight with Gaethje changed him, but I wouldn't be surprised if we get some flashes of the old “El Cucuy” this weekend.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson is a dog for the first time since 2011. I’m just not buying it.
Bet: Tony Ferguson +138
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: #2 KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN 15-4 VS #7 VIVIANE ARAUJO 10-2
Chookagian is a slight favorite Saturday night against a fairly dangerous opponent Viviane Araujo, who has won via finish in 70% of her victories. Chookagian was a dog in her last match against Cynthia Calvillo in a fight that resulted in Chookagian winning a dominant decision. I expect more of the same here, where Chookagian will leverage her size and striking advantage, though she will need to fend off the takedowns. Araujo is 5-1 since entering the UFC, but as you look at her resume, she's successful against those that favor grappling while struggling against strikers. Chookagian will be her biggest test to date, even if Katlyn is landing more on the air in front of her while making more noise than causing damage.
Prediction: Chookagian and her cardio advantage snag her a decision.
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: #9 SHANE BURGOS 13-2 VS #13 EDSON BARBOZA 21-9
Quick Take: Burgos looked amazing on the scale, while Barboza not so much. Burgos has the highest SLpM statistics on the entire card, and you better believe he will need to close and keep that number up, to avoid Barboza's nasty kicks. Burgos loves to close and fight inside, while Barboza typically looks to control distance, keeping his opponent just on the end of his shots. If Burgos can avoid getting sucked into a river dance, he should be able to close and cause some visible damage on the feet. Barboza mentioned his excitement of recently signing the biggest contract he will ever receive, and this the first fight of the six he agreed. It makes me wonder just how hungry he is now that he's locked up some cash. On the other hand, Burgos has a baby girl on the way in two weeks and is hyped to make a statement in the biggest fight of his career. This will be a violent one.
Prediction: Shane Burgos
BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: #8 MATT SCHNELL 15-5 VS #9 ROGERIO BONTORIN 16-3
Bonton jumps in on short notice, and the weigh-in made it clear. For a guy who normally fights at 125, he couldn’t even make the 135lb limit up a class at bantamweight here. He weighs in at 137 lbs and will forfeit 20% of his purse to Schnell. Bonton has a lot going against him here. The weight cut miss, fighting up a class, and Schnell's 5.5-inch reach advantage, while also the pressure of possibly losing three straight after Saturday night. Schnell has won five of his last six, only losing via KO to Pantoja. His last three losses have all been by KO, and I don't see Bontorin do the same. Bonton does have three wins via KO, but one of those was due to a cut, and the other two were against guys not at Schnell’s level.
Prediction: Schnell’s fight to lose.
PRELIMS TAKES, PREDICTIONS & BETS
MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: JACARE SOUZA 26-9 VS ANDRE MUNIZ 20-4
Good bounce-back fight here for the legend. Fresh in our minds is that crazy knockout loss via the hands of Kevin Holland from the ground. It makes you question Jacare’s chin at this point, but I'm not too concerned as Muniz isn't a fighter known for his power. Muniz has won six straight, including going 2-0 in the UFC, but the level of competition isn't that of Jacare. Muniz is a dangerous foe for anyone that struggles with the submission game, but as you know, Jacare is one of the best on the mat, and after 36 fights, he has yet to be submitted.
Prediction: Jacare takes a decision or possibly a knockout of his own.
Bet: Jacare Souza -115
FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: LANDO VANNATA 11-5-2 VS MIKE GRUNDY 12-2
This will be a good one. Striker versus grappler spot, and with both guys knowing what's coming their way, it will be all about who can execute first. Although Vannata keeps his hands low and never takes his head off centerline, Grundy's striking is very lackluster. What makes up for this is his grappling and ability to get his opponents down. Vannata is a former college wrestler, but Grundy should still have the edge on the mat. Grundy broke his jaw in his last fight and fought to the final bell, showing his toughness. Vannata is dropping to 145 for this one after a run at 155. He looked pretty drained but played it off on the scale. Vannata has gone 1-2 in his last three, and in those two losses, he lost the grappling battle, being taken down three or more times in those fights. If Grundy could take Movsar Evloev down six times, he should have his way against Vannata with that cut down to featherweight.
Prediction: Grundy avoids the big shots and out grapples Vannata.
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: #11 ANDREA LEE 11-5 VS #12 ANTONINA SHEVCHENKO 9-2
Shevchenko has a shot here to potentially jump into the top 10 with a big win against Andrea Lee in this spot. Lee has her back against the wall after dropping three straight fights, though all three very close decisions. Lee will have the crowd behind her here, and it will be interesting if it sways the judges if the fight stays close. Both fighters are very durable and will trade shots across the three rounds. Lee more than likely will eventually close and look to take Shevchenko down and score with some control. Shevchenko opened at almost -200 and has been bet down for a good reason all week. This will be a close fight.
Prediction: Andrea Lee edges out Shevchenko
MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: JORDAN WRIGHT 11-1 VS JAMIE PICKETT 11-5
Aside from the main event, this one has the highest potential to finish inside the distance. But who wins? Pickett is a pretty durable fighter who’s shown an ability to weather some storms and adjust where needed. Though he’s never been finished, he’s pretty predictable, and his opponents have been able to score with takedowns, or leg kicks, keeping him fighting from behind for the most part. Pickett does have some power, and if he’s able to hurt his opponent, he swarms. This has resulted in nine finishes in his 11 wins, with seven via TKOs. Wright is coming off the first true loss of his pro career, a KO loss to Joaquin Buckley. Wright also lost via finish to Anthony Hernandez in 40 seconds on the DWCS, though the fight was overturned to a No Contest as both failed drug tests post-fight. Wright will have them stand up and distance control in this one, which he will need, as his chin has been suspect. Pickett’s inability to fend off kicks should be seen here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Wright gets him down at some point and locks in a submission, but I just can't back it. Wright's opponents combined record before entering the UFC was 25-45, with 11 of those wins coming from one fighter. He also fought four guys with no professional fights.
Prediction: This one will be wild, but I'll side with Pickett if I have to pick aside.
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: GINA MAZANY 7-4 VS PRISCILA CACHOEIRA 9-3
Mazany is the biggest favorite on the card here. She had an impressive win in her last fight, which happen to be her first at flyweight, finishing Rachel Ostovich in the third. Here she takes on Cachoeira, who got back on track with a quick KO of Shana Dobson in February of 2020 but has been on the shelf since after a botched weight cut for her fight against Courtney Casey. You may recall Valentina Shevchenko’s brutal beatdown of Cachoeira a few fights back, where she absorbed 95 strikes to the two she landed. In her next two fights, she took over 100 shots in each and lost both, which further cemented her worst striking differential in the division. That said, Cachoeira truly has an amazing ability to get hit in the face. Mazany should mix in grappling and continue to land as Cachoeira’s other three UFC opponents had aside from Dobson. Nothing can be certain in life but death, taxes, and fading Priscila Cachoeira.
Prediction: Mazany and probably via decision
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: KEVIN AGUILAR 17-4 VS TUCKER LUTZ 11-1
Lutz makes his official UFC debut after winning two clear decisions on the DWCS in late 2020 and gets an immediate step up in competition here against Kevin Aguilar. Now it's easy to get sucked into recency bias here as Aguilar has dropped three straight, but you have to consider he was 17-1 before the skid, with some decent wins against the likes of Barzola, Glenn, Damon Jackson, and Thanh Lee. Aguilar is coming off a split decision loss to Charles Rosa, where he entered as a moderate favorite, and the line closed around -200. Aguilar has had a full camp for this one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he rocks the newcomer early and at the very least gets back on track, spoiling Lutz's official UFC debut.
Prediction: Kevin Aguilar
Bet: Kevin Aguilar +100
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: CHRISTOS GIAGOS 18-8 VS SEAN SORIANO 14-6
Soriano, one of Chandler’s training partners, takes this fight on very short notice. This will be his second stint in the UFC, and he has improved since his first run back at 25 years of age. Now at 31, he’s won five of his last six, including an impressive round 1 TKO of Noad Lahat back in March. Soriano has some power in his hands, and the majority of his TKO wins have come in the first round. Coupled with his striking, he has some decent offensive grappling which he will need to get going against a guy like Giagos. Giagos is a similar fighter, but I’d probably give him the grappling edge in this spot. When he gets you down, he's smothering and usually scores from the top with ground and pound to put his opponents in positions where they give up their back. One thing going against him in his gas tank. He visibly slows as the fight goes on, and his cardio has been suspect his entire career. I do see this as a more competitive fight than the oddsmakers have it.
Prediction: I think Soriano steals this one and kicks off the night with a win.
THE GUPPY SPECIAL
Now, this is no "whale play," and actually, it's completely the opposite. This one is for pure entertainment purposes only. Many of you know that I've run the board a handful of times as I've thrown out predictions, and one of these week's we will hit one of these "guppies."
Use this play to round your balance off at your book, nothing serious, just entertainment purposes only.
This week's Guppy Special (odds from DraftKings):
Parlay pays +12537
FULL CARD PREDICTIONS
- MICHAEL CHANDLER defeats CHARLES OLIVEIRA
- TONY FERGUSON defeats BENEIL DARIUSH
- KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN defeats VIVIANE ARAUJO
- SHANE BURGOS defeats EDSON BARBOZA
- MATT SCHNELL defeats ROGERIO BONTORIN
- JACARE SOUZA defeats ANDRE MUNIZ
- MIKE GRUNDY defeats LANDO VANNATA
- ANDREA LEE defeats ANTONINA SHEVCHENKO
- JAMIE PICKETT defeats JORDAN WRIGHT
- GINA MAZANY defeats PRISCILA CACHOEIRA
- KEVIN AGUILAR defeats TUCKER LUTZ
- SEAN SORIANO defeats CHRISTOS GIAGOS
UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY
- 2021 Fight card predictions overall: 104-74-4 (58%)
- 2021 Targeted matchups (wagers): 58-55-2 (51%)
DFS PLAYS & STRATEGIES
- Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
- Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
- Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five-round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
- Don't get excited and rush a pick based on stats; consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
- Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.
As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC 262. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are at in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.
Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.
Below is the striking differential for the card: (Strikes landed versus absorbed on average per night)
UFC DFS RECOMMENDATIONS
- Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
- Fights projected to NOT go to a decision:
- Oliveira/Chandler -470
- Schnell/Bontorin -120
- Muniz/Souza -120
- Pickett/Wright -225
- Picking the right side in this main event will be key, though not mandatory for your roster. Usually, we leverage the five rounds of work, but I anticipate one of these two to secure some finish points. Oliveira is the biggest favorite on the card to snag a finish, but Chandler’s price tag holds some value, and he could get it done as well. I side with the underdog here.
- Top Tier fighters to build around include: Mazany, Schnell
- Mid Tier fighter considerations are: Oliveira (if you side with him), Souza, Burgos, Chookagian
- Live Dogs that could score: Chandler, Ferguson, Aguilar, Soriano.
- The Pickett vs. Wright fight is -225 to end inside the distance. Both are priced at $8100. I side with Pickett, though this is truly a wildcard.
Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY