UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler
By: Clint MacLean (@DieHardMMAPod)
The King is gone. The pound-for-pound best fighter we have ever seen has dropped his gloves, and we never expect to see him again. Khabib Nurmagomedov ruled the UFC’s 155-pound division with an iron fist in an era where the talent was head and shoulders above anything we have seen. There is no doubt that Khabib was the undisputed king of the Lightweights, and with him gone, there is a void to be filled, and Charles Oliveira will face UFC newcomer Michael Chandler for the vacant title on Saturday.
Charles Oliveira (-135)
31 years old
30 – 8
90% finish rate
19 Wins by Submission
Charles Oliveira is a fighter we have seen grow up right in front of us. The Brazilian prospect showed all the signs of greatness early on in the UFC, but he failed the tenacity and will to fight through tough positions. In the last several years, Charles Oliveira has done nothing but show us new levels to his game. Charles is on a ridiculous 8 fight win streak and hasn’t lost since he moved up from 145 to 155. Now comfortable and having filled out well in his new weight class Charles Oliveira has been talked about as the dark horse of the division and stamped his pass to title contention with his dominant win over top contender Tony Ferguson in December of 2020. There is one final hurdle between Charlie O and his goal of becoming a world champion.
Michael Chandler (+115)
35 years old
22 – 5
77% finish rate
10 Wins by KO/TKO
Michael Chandler is a well-known face in MMA. Chandler was known as the #2 best fighter that Bellator had to offer, and even though he was not fighting under the UFC banner has been fighting elite-level competition and has earned the respect of his peers and the MMA world. Chandler made his UFC debut against fan-favorite Dan Hooker and absolutely ran through the UFC veteran, shocking the die-hard fan base who know just how tough and durable Hooker is. Chandler was already on the fast track to the UFC title picture, but now that Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor have decided to settle their trilogy Chandler is a shoo-in as a dance partner for the vacant title.
Charles Oliveira is a deadly muay Thai striker and a high-level BJJ black belt who can force his opponents to tap from any position. In the last several years, Charlie O has filled his frame out with the extra 10 pounds at 155, and that has given him the physicality needed to overpower most foes at Lightweight. Now that Oliveira has added a new wrinkle to his game with his wrestling skills, he seems to have rounded out his entire game and is a force to be reckoned with.
While Oliveira is nothing but impressive, he has still been relatively untested beyond what some may consider a shot version of Tony Ferguson. The early problem with Charles Oliveira is that he was a great hammer but a bad nail. Charles Oliveira has had a problem when his opponents can take his best shot and stay in his face; he tends to wilt and break. Now it has been a few years since we have seen that happen to Charlie, but he hasn’t fought any opponents who have been able to put him in that position. The last time Charles Oliveira was pushed was in the fight with Kevin Lee, where it felt as though he was beginning to break under pressure Lee was putting on him, and then The Motown Phenom slipped up and gave Charles an easy opening. Charles made good on the opportunity and won via submission.
Michael Candler will push Oliveira, and he might be able to do it in a way that no fighter has been able to for 5 years. Chandler is a power house and a high-level wrestler working with 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman to prepare for this title fight. If there is a man at 155 who can wrestle the way Khabib used to, it might be Michael Chandler. Chandler also brings big power with him to a striking battle, so even if he doesn’t want to test Charles in the grappling department, he will be able to hit harder than any of Oliveira’s previous opponents if there is a fighter who can bring out the quit in Charles Oliveria it a man with the physicality and skill set of a Michael Chandler.
Maybe I’m just a hater. Maybe I fail to see the greatness of Charles Oliveira, and he will reign in the stead of Khabib as the new and true 155 pound champion for many years to come, but I am still not sold. He has to prove it to me. Given he has a fighter in front of him that is truly elite and a bad stylistic match-up for him, I have to take my chances and bet against Oliveira one last time.