Oliveira Captures Lightweight Gold at UFC 262
by Paul Miller
Charles Oliveira claimed the UFC lightweight title Saturday night, stopping Michael Chandler with a barrage of punches early in the second round at UFC 262.
Oliveira (31-8) earned his ninth consecutive victory in dramatic fashion, finishing Chandler (22-6) with a series of precise strikes to claim the belt vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement.
As the fight began, Oliveira’s first two calf kicks proved effective, as the second took Chandler’s legs out from under him. Chandler punched his way in, however, and when Oliveira changed levels for a takedown, Chandler locked on with a guillotine. Oliveira popped out, and Chandler gave up his back. Chandler worked up with Oliveira on his back, then slammed the pair of them down, but Oliveira remained on his back, with a body triangle. Chandler then focused on fighting hands, and scrambled free — adding a few punches from the top while avoiding upkicks. He’d soon have Oliveira stacked against the fence, and “Iron” Mike was not shy about going to the ground on top with the jiu-jitsu ace. A strong start for Chandler, who finished the round strong
Oliveira abruptly dropped Chandler with a left hook in the opening seconds of the second round. The Brazilian veteran pursued Chandler around the perimeter of the cage before dropping Chandler again with a left hook and finishing with punches on the ground.
Oliveira has stopped eight of his nine opponents during his winning streak, ran across the mat and hurdled the cage to celebrate his first title belt after 11 years in the UFC and his record 17th UFC finish.
Oliveira is the UFC’s first new undisputed lightweight champion in over three years. Nurmagomedov held the belt from April 2018 until this year, when UFC President Dana White finally accepted the unbeaten Russian star’s decision to retire in the prime of his career.
A mid-career surge led Oliveira to a title fight, while Chandler got his shot only eight months after signing with the UFC following a decade in Bellator, where he won the 155-pound title three times. Chandler’s UFC debut was an impressive stoppage of Dan Hooker in January, and the promotion fast-tracked him to a title shot.
But Oliveira showed off his ever-improving striking game alongside his already formidable jiu-jitsu skills in a career-capping performance.
Oliveira’s first title defense could come form any number of fighters, such as the McGregor-Poirier winner, hard hitting Justin Gaethje, and maybe Beneil Dariush, fresh off an impressive victory against once thought unbeatable Tony Ferguson on the same UFC 262 card.