Breaking news has come out of the UFC on Thursday night – the promotion has Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler lined up for the vacant lightweight title. After Khabib Nurmagomedov officially retired from MMA as lightweight champion, Dana White immediately made the major announcement via ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto. The bout will reportedly take place on May 16 at UFC 262.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0-0 13-0-0 UFC) has officially confirmed his retirement, and Dana White already has his sights set on a replacement fight to determine the next lightweight champion. Ariel Helwani reported that Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier were too far apart in contract negotiations to have the fight done in May, and so White chose Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler for the title.
In Aftermath of Khabib Retirement, Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler Eyed for Title
Number three-ranked Charles Oliveira (30-8-0, 18-8-0 UFC) is reportedly set to face number four in the lightweight division for the title in Michael Chandler (22-5-0, 1-0-0 UFC). The featherweight contender Oliveira is coming off a decision win against former interim titleholder and fifth-ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson. Charles is currently riding an eight-fight win streak. Oliveira has been dominant at 155 pounds, with an overall record of 9-1 in the division, compared to 9-7 at featherweight. After Khabib retired and presumably vacated the title, Oliveira now owns the longest active win streak in the lightweight division.
The American Michael Chandler is 1-0 in the UFC with an impressive KO win over perennial Australian contender Dan Hooker, and he seeks to further the momentum into a title fight win. The former three-time Bellator lightweight champion signed with the UFC in September, and had previously weighed in as an alternate for the title fight at UFC 254: Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje. Chandler also signed a million-dollar contract with the promotion, something seen as a steep price for a free agent from Bellator. He looks to prove that he is worth every penny against Oliveira at UFC 262.
Implications for the Lightweights
Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler marks the end of Nurmagomedov’s reign of dominance at lightweight, and it will begin a new era for those in the 155-pound division. It may seem that the title will be changing hands quite often, but don’t sleep on these two men challenging for the title.
Michael Chandler put an exclamation point on his debut with a one-shot KO over Hooker, putting to bed the criticisms of his boxing as a wrestling-centric fighter. Additionally, the argument that Chandler is fighting inferior opponents is now gone, as Hooker has been a top contender at both 145 and 155, and is one of the tougher guys in the division. He took Dustin Poirier five rounds, and a reasonable argument could have been made that he won that fight. Nevertheless, Chandler made short work of him; something that should bode as a warning sign for Oliveira and the rest of the lightweights in the UFC.
Oliveira, meanwhile, owns the record for most UFC submission wins in any era with 14, passing such legends as Demian Maia and Jim Miller. Oliveira can be fireworks on the feet as well; he has two UFC knockouts to his name, but that is only because he has finished 78% of his wins as submissions. His dominance over all-time great Tony Ferguson should come as no surprise. The Brazilian can fight, and he wants to make everyone aware come May 16.
This may look to be a grappling matchup on paper, but these two men may seek to avoid each other’s specialties. Being trapped on the canvas for either man could spell disaster. Regardless, Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler is shaping up to be a fantastic fight. Let us know how you see the fight playing out in the comments!
Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler