UFC 262 - Chandler vs Oliveira - Analysis and Prediction
Michael Chandler vs Charles Oliveira
We have two top lightweights battling for the vacant lightweight belt for this one. As mentioned in the preview, this is going to be an event with fans and you better believe Texas is going to be going nuts when these two step into the cage.
Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (30-8-0) made his UFC debut way back in 2010. The Brazillian holds records for most finishes and most submissions in the UFC. Going into this one, he’s riding an 8 fight winning streak. Seven of those wins came by way of finish. It would have been 8 for 8 if he had another 10 seconds to hold onto the armbar he strapped Tony Ferguson up with. Although Oliveira has ultra high BJJ skills, he’s become incredibly dangerous on the feet as well.
“Iron” Michael Chandler (22-5-0) made his UFC debut back in January where he knocked out top lightweight, Dan Hooker. Despite this late debut, fight fans have known about Chandler for a long time as he’s been a staple in Bellator organization. Becoming a multi time champion and involved in a ton of wars. He’s a division 1 wrestler who is as game as they come, never turning down a fight or taking a step back when he’s in one.
How They Match Up
Not going to lie, there are a LOT of different ways this thing can go. Let’s dive into it. First off, both guys have specialties that weren’t striking (BJJ vs Wrestling), yet they’ve developed the stand up part of their games to the point where they seem to prefer it as of late. That’s not to say they don’t both rely on their bread and butter as well, but I won’t be surprised if a great deal of this fight stays on the feet.
Next, both guys move forward with absolute reckless abandon. Seriously, it’s going to be anyone’s guess how the first two minutes of this fight is going to go. Sort of like the Prochazka/Reyes fight, a finish is likely early with the chance for opening chaos here. Despite their newish penchant for the stand-up, both fighter’s striking defense never really caught up to the offense. Both fighters have been rocked, wobbled and finished via strikes over their careers. Chandler will have the edge in punching power but Oliveira will have a way better kicking game. Hooker landed one calf kick on Chandler which noticeably had an effect (albeit briefly and not followed up), and Oliveira kicks much harder than Hooker so this could be a factor if the fight lasts.
Chandler’s knockout over Hooker was a result of Hooker circling away, backing up and letting Chandler press forward, throwing 1-2 combos until eventually he connected. Oliveira is certainly not going to do what Hooker did. If Chandler scores the knockout it will most likely be through a frantic exchange.
Regarding their specializations, Chandler has incredible wrestling and ground and pound. He has a great balance between being active without sacrificing position. One huge problem with this is that if he takes the fight to the ground, he will be in the guard of the most dangerous submission grappler in the UFC. Oliveira has long limbs and has an incredibly active guard game with the sort of submission variety you’d expect from a 3rd degree black belt. To counter this, Chandler has never been submitted (although he’s never faced anyone on Oliveira’s BJJ level).
In terms of heart, Chandler’s can’t be questioned. Whereas we’ve seen Oliveira sort of give up in the past when his ground attack was stifled (although that was very long ago). “Do Bronx” will hold edges in height (2”) and reach (3”) but I don’t think it’s going to be a factor since he A) rarely fights long and B) presses forward into the pocket anyway. And lastly, “Iron” Michael is going to walk in there with the American flag draped around his shoulders to a boisterous Texan crowd behind him. Anyone who says home cage advantage isn't a factor in the UFC is unequivocally incorrect. Take a look how some fighters reacted to the crowd at UFC 261 (Zhang lost the belt and spoke out in an interview stating the boo birds played a huge role in her mentality)
If you choose to bet this one, you’re probably better off being on the positive side of the coin flip. But in terms of the analysis on strictly who will win, I have a very slight lean towards Oliveira. The Brazilian’s kicks, momentum, size, breadth of competition faced, and world class jiu jitsu should be JUST enough to get the job done here.