The lightweight title is no longer vacant.
Charles Oliveira defeated Michael Chandler in the main event of UFC 262 to become the new lightweight champion, ending the fight by TKO 19 seconds into the second round. This took place only moments after Chandler (22-6) dominated the latter half of the first round, showcasing his power and forcing Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) to absorb a significant amount of punishment.
Late in that first round, Oliveira was hurt and forced into a bad position, getting pounded with a similar combination that Chandler used to end Dan Hooker’s night during their bout in January. Oliveira then completely shifted the momentum in the second round, landing a crisp left hand on Chandler’s chin, immediately capitalizing upon that momentum for the TKO.
The 262 card was defined by the lightweight division. In the co-main event, Beneil Dariush dominated Tony Ferguson. This victory is incredibly significant for Dariush (21-4, 1 NC). He is still another top-five win away from title contention, but this was an excellent grappling performance against the once-great Ferguson (25-6). This marks the third loss in a row for Ferguson, and he continues to be out-classed in the manner he is losing. Ferguson could not stop the takedown, nor could he get up from underneath, and a heel hook submission effectively ended his night. While he remains a fan favorite, Ferguson’s last three performances significantly drop his standing in the UFC, a stark contrast from his dominance just two years ago as he put the finishing touches on his twelfth straight win.
Another highlight of the card took place during the opening fight, where Edson Barboza delivered a throwback performance in a KO victory against Shane Burgos. This was a three-round, back-and-forth affair, ending in an unusual circumstance when Barboza (22-9) drilled Burgos (13-3) in the temple. Five seconds after getting tagged, Burgos fell to the mat, unfortunately taking a couple extra shots before the fight was called. Barboza will jump in the featherweight rankings, and he looked phenomenal in the win. The card also included Rogerio Bontorin (17-3, 1 NC) defeating Matt Schnell (15-6) by unanimous decision in a catchweight bout, as well as a unanimous decision win for Katlyn Chookagian (16-4) against Viviane Araujo (10-3) in a women’s flyweight fight.
UFC 262 will be remembered for Oliveira’s ascension to the top of the lightweight division. It is possible that Oliveira first defends against Justin Gaethje while waiting for the winner of the Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor meeting in July, with Chandler and Dariush not too far from title contention.
The lightweight division is loaded with talent, and while there are plenty of question marks moving forward, the champion is no longer one of them. 28 fights into his UFC career, Oliveira’s championship journey is complete.
LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: MICHAEL CHANDLER VS. CHARLES OLIVEIRA -- 12:35 AM ET
A crisp left hand set in motion the finishing sequence for the main event of 262, as Charles Oliveira defeated Michael Chandler by TKO.
Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) tagged Chandler in the opening moments of the second round, putting Chandler (22-6) on his heels. Oliveira laid in a barrage of shots, forcing a referee stoppage, and now begins his first-ever run as UFC Lightweight Champion.
Oliveira absorbed a tremendous amount of pressure from Chandler in the first five minutes, and this fight was precariously close to being called in Chandler’s favor. Chandler’s power caused enormous problems for Oliveira, and he recovered in a strong manner after the fight started in Oliveira’s favor on the mat. But the round ended with Oliveira fortunate to survive, with Chandler just pummeling him with an array of shots.
Chandler went from dominance to defeat. The former Bellator star now has an uphill battle to regain a spot in a title fight, with Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaejthe, and Conor McGregor all a step ahead of him. The next title contender will be determined in July when McGregor meets Poirier for their rubber match. Until then, Brazilian mixed martial arts is back atop the world as Oliveira finally attains gold in the UFC.
LIGHTWEIGHT FIGHT: TONY FERGUSON VS. BENEIL DARIUSH -- 11:57 PM ET
For the third straight fight, Tony Ferguson was outclassed by his opponent.
Ferguson (26-6) dropped his third in a row, this time by unanimous decision to Beneil Dariush, who controlled all three rounds. Dariush (21-4, 1 NC) showcased his grappling, refusing to allow Ferguson to cause any sort of his signature chaos.
Dariush attacked the back early, then secured his first takedown. He dominated on the ground, keeping Ferguson on his back, stacking and swinging en route to winning the round. Round two appeared to start in Ferguson’s favor on the ground, but Dariush showed off his grappling and reversed the position. Dariush again controlled the round, putting Ferguson’s left knee through a grind, fully locking in a heel hook in an absolutely brilliant performance.
Ferguson remains as tough as ever, and he absorbed an outrageous amount of punishment, but even with the Houston crowd firmly behind him, this was never a contest. Dariush’s win streak now moves to seven, and this is one of the most important victories of his career.
CATCHWEIGHT FIGHT: MATT SCHNELL VS. ROGERIO BONTORIN -- 11:20 PM ET
Powered by a dominant third round, Rogerio Bontorin defeated Matt Schnell by unanimous decision.
This was scheduled to be a bantamweight fight, but turned into catchweight after Bontorin (17-3, 1 NC) missed weight by one pound. Schnell (15-6) was consistently one step behind, and Bontorin picked up momentum as the fight continued. Had he made weight, this would have been an even more impressive moment, but it marred that it took place at catchweight.
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT FIGHT: KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN VS. VIVIANE ARAUJO -- 10:48 PM ET
Katlyn Chookagian and Viviane Araujo went the distance, with Chookagian winning the fight via unanimous decision.
There was a slight amount of controversy in the second round, as it appeared Chookagian (16-4) may have tapped. It was the right no-call, though it was surprising that this was not a split decision. Araujo (10-3) looked especially sharp in the second round, where she appeared poised to submit Chookagian following a mid-round takedown. But Chookagian survived that stretch, then delivered her most impressive five-minute stretch in the third round.
Chookagian holds serve with the win. She is ranked second in the flyweight division, and this was Araujo’s chance to make some noise and disrupt the rankings had she pulled off a victory. So the chase for Valentina Shevchenko continues, but nothing about this fight showed that Chookagian, who has already lost to Shevchenko, is in a position to beat the champ.
FEATHERWEIGHT FIGHT: SHANE BURGOS VS. EDSON BARBOZA -- 10:18 PM ET
In a spectacular performance, Edson Barboza turned back the clock with a throwback TKO victory against Shane Burgos.
This was everything an opening bout is supposed to be. And this was a wild victory, capped off with an unusual knockout. Barboza (22-9) drilled Burgos (13-3) with a left and then a right to the skull, and there was about a five-second delay between the last blow and Burgos’s collapse. His legs simply gave out, and the fight should have been called the moment he fell. Barboza delivered a couple more shots, and that was the end of the night for Burgos.
Barboza overcame a nasty cut to his shin, and this was a gritty outing that shows he has premium fights ahead of him as a featherweight. Burgos also raised his stock, even in defeat, though the loss was especially devastating after he recovered from a tough opening five minutes to control the second round.
From Burgos’s left hook to the body to Barboza’s spinning back kick, this was an outstanding bout.
A new lightweight champion will be crowned this evening at UFC 262.
Twelve years into his illustrious career, Michael Chandler seeks to finally attain UFC gold. He meets the red-hot Charles Oliveira in the 262 main event, who looks to extend his eight-fight win streak and put gold around his waist.
In addition to Chandler-Oliveira, the UFC has a solid card in store for 262. For the first time since losing to Oliveira, Tony Ferguson returns to action, squaring off against a hungry opponent with powerful hands—which is a dangerous combination -- in Beneil Dariush. Viviane Araujo seeks the biggest win of her professional career in a flyweight fight against Katlyn Chookagian, and Shane Burgos is destined to have a compelling bout against the great Edson Barboza in featherweight action. A scheduled bantamweight bout pitting Matt Schnell against Rogelio Bontorin bout was moved to catchweight after Bontorin failed to make weight.
The card is solid and the main event has the potential to be spectacular. A new lightweight champion will be crowned, with a defining moment only moments away for Chandler or Oliveira.