Greetings, fight fans! UFC 262 has wrapped up, and we have a new king at lightweight as Charles Oliveira took the scenic route to the top of the division with a commanding TKO win over Michael Chandler. As Oliveira basks in his prime, Tony Ferguson proved without doubt that he's long past his in a dominant loss to Beneil Dariush, while Edson Barboza showed that he might indeed have found some new life at 145 lbs. There wasn't a ton else of high significance, but we did get some fun fights, so let's get down to what the hell happened!
The Main Card
Oliveira overcomes adversity, immediately claims gold with rousing 2nd round TKO of Chandler
#3 Charles Oliveira def. #4 Michael Chandler by TKO via strikes (0:19, R2) to win the vacant lightweight championship
That beautiful short left hook gets Do Bronx to win the title !! pic.twitter.com/k6EejN5bwQ— Sweet Punch Memories (@SweetPmemories) May 16, 2021
What happened?: Oliveira had some early success pretty much everywhere, but things went awry when Chandler was able to reverse position on the ground and get on top, where he was unafraid of the Brazilian's vaunted guard and pummeled him with punches on the ground and standing for the latter half of the opening round. However, just seconds into round two, a tight left hook was the beginning of the end for Chandler, and a flurry of strikes had him stumbling around the cage until he had nowhere to go and the fight was mercifully stopped.
How did that happen?: Superior technique and composure won the day for the new champion, and those are two things that have been a long time in the making for him. He began the fight with a hard low kick that took Chandler off balance; a smart opening tactic considering how heavy Chandler is on his front foot and how integral that is to his power punches. Oliveira was definitely wary of Chandler's pressure and ability to explode, and frequently raised his lead knee when Chandler inched forward to feint teep kicks and just put an obstacle in his way considering how much he loves to change levels for the straight right to the body. Chandler did manage to land a hard left hook that looked to stun Oliveira, who responded by shooting in for a double leg and getting it pretty easily. However, on the way down Chandler wrapped up a guillotine choke, and it appeared pretty tight. As insane as it would have been to see Chandler tap Olivieira, it wasn't meant to be, and 'Do Bronx' was able to extract his head and take top position.
We ended up with a TKO by the grappler, but remember when the striker nearly landed a submission?
One thing that influenced my favoring of Oliveira in this fight was that if the fight hit the ground and Oliveira was on top, I knew Chandler had the habit of giving up his back to get to his feet. This was exactly what he did here, and as expected, Oliveira hopped right on it, secured a body triangle, and began searching for the rear-naked choke. Chandler managed to stand and launched himself backward to slam Oliveira into the mat, but he only succeeded in deepening the body triangle and worsening his situation.
Not the greatest idea against a grappler like Oliveira.
A hard back elbow landed flush for Oliveira from his back, but other than that Chandler's defense was pretty solid until he managed to explode out and end up on top. From here, things got dicey for the Brazilian, as Chandler was able to land some big punches before the fight made it's way back to the feet. A series of big left hooks from Chandler then hurt Oliveira, and a right hand over the top sent him to all fours, where he frantically moved his head from side-to-side to avoid follow up shots, though several of them were getting through. It was starting to look like the end was near for Oliveira, but somewhat surprisingly, he was able to go to his back, regain his wits, and slow things down until the horn, which was a victory in and of itself for him considering his history.
Oliveira proved once and for all that he could overcome adversity.
Oliveira came out in round two immediately pressuring, and Chandler actually looked a little fatigued. They met in the pocket for an exchange, and essentially the factor that got the whole finishing sequence moving was that Oliveira stood his ground while Chandler moved straight backward out of the exchange. This left him still inside Oliveira's range, and open to eat that hard left hook that dropped him while backing away. The fight was essentially over from there, as Chandler was sent stumbling back into the cage and Oliveira gave chase, landing an uppercut that appeared to rattle him some more, a knee up the middle, and a right elbow up top before Chandler found an opening to escape to his right and run along the cage. Oliveira was in hot pursuit though, and a huge left hook dropped Chandler along the cage, where a volley of follow up punches sealed the deal, crowning a new undisputed lightweight champion.
Other thoughts: I've heard from more than one analyst that pressure might be the most important component of this fight, though you can argue that's the case for most fights. It definitely rang true here, as both fighters had their best successes on the feet when they were the ones forcing the other to move backward. Oliveira, for all his improvements, still isn't the most defensively sound fighter; he stands pretty tall and doesn't move his head much, and that definitely tends to be a liability when he's forced to back up. Chandler is mostly devoid of lateral movement, and is either exploding forward or darting backward, which can also make him an easy target. Well, it did make him an easy target here and led to him being finished. It's pretty interesting how stark the importance of pressure was in this fight.
It was pretty surreal seeing Oliveira achieve this milestone after following essentially his entire career. There was a point when his prospect shine dimmed considerably and he was no longer thought of as a future champion or even perennial top fighter at lightweight or featherweight. Questions about his heart and composure loomed for much of the time, even into this very fight, and not without reason. He had developed a reputation for being breakable with his previous three losses to Paul Felder, Ricardo Lamas, and Anthony Pettis; all fights where he was just broken down over time and just looked like he didn't want to be there when things got rough. The sudden, odd natures of his loss due to an esophagus injury to Max Holloway and his delayed reaction knockout loss to Cub Swanson labeled him fragile. Other than his decision loss to Frankie Edgar, he was someone who always went down in flames when he lost; a clear front runner.
In his eight-fight winning streak leading to this title fight, he shored up a lot of his issues technically and in a lot of ways was a new and improved fighter, but through those wins we never got much of a sense that he'd gotten over his ability to handle adversity. He fought some solid opponents, but most of them really weren't a high enough level to give him that adversity. He had a competitive fight with Kevin Lee for a couple rounds but was never really put through the wringer before scoring the submission, and he didn't face much adversity at all against Tony Ferguson. Throughout his exceptional run, this title-clinching victory was the first to prove that he could be put in real trouble, withstand it, and come back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It was really one of the main things that I thought separated him from the truly elite in the division, and it's pretty poetic that the fight that proves he's the top guy in the division is the one that finally puts the rest the notion that he's still breakable.
As for Chandler, he'll be just fine. One of the similarities I picked up between him and Oliveira is that they're (or were) both weirdly breakable. Chandler's TKO loss to Will Brooks still stands as one of the odder instances in the sport, where he ate a shot and it was almost like as if he completely forgot what was going on but was fully conscious, and almost seemed to lose due to the confusion rather than the punishment. His TKO loss to Brent Primus is one of the earliest notable instances of foot drop gravely affecting a fighter, but it's even weirder considering the fight might not have been stopped had someone not removed his stool right before he went to sit on it, causing him to fall over and leading the doctor to think that his leg was too compromised for him to stand. Other than a couple controversial decisions, Chandler similarly loses in weird and/or spectacular fashion. However, he still put on a solid performance against Oliveira and it left no indicator that he's incapable of beating most lightweights with his limited, but effective tool set.
Next for Oliveira: The winner of Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor 3. As lame as it would be to see McGregor get another title match when he hasn't strung together any kind of winning streak since 2016, Poirier is essentially the next best guy, so if he pulls that off it's hard to deny him the shot.
Next for Chandler: Justin Gaethje. This was supposedly the fight that was originally thought of for the vacant title, so with them both coming off losses, why not book it now?
Dariush dominates while Ferguson's fall continues
#9 Beneil Dariush def. #5 Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
What happened?: In another depressingly one-sided outing for the former interim lightweight champion, Ferguson looked mostly lost on the feet, easily gave up takedowns, and had nothing on the ground for Dariush. Much like his previous loss to Oliveira, his defining moment was not tapping to a dangerous submission.
How did that happen?: Dariush really never gave Ferguson a chance to get comfortable, immediately taking the center of the octagon and pressuring a fighter who is used to bringing the pressure himself. He quickly found a bit of success with left hands, but he showed off another wrinkle to his striking as well when he launched several sweeping low kicks to Ferguson's rear leg, a rarely used technique you might remember Anthony Pettis using against Stephen Thompson, which made sense with Thompson usually staying light on his lead leg. Dariush closed the distance to land a fairly easy double leg takedown, and though Ferguson immediately cleared some space with his legs and worked for a triangle choke, Dariush was wise to it and defended well. Once he escaped, he went wild with ground and pound, though not much of it landed flush. He then focused on passing guard and tried to lock up an arm triangle, but Ferguson escaped out the back, only to be reversed to his back again, where he'd remain for the rest of the round.
Ferguson is no stranger to slow starts, but this one was especially uninspiring.
In round two, Dariush wasted little time grabbing a body lock and securing a takedown. While trying to work his way to his feet, Ferguson locked in a D'arce that actually appeared somewhat tight even though he was stuck in guard, but it was pretty much a futile effort against such a seasoned grappler, and before long he was able to extract his head. Ferguson then managed to actually reverse to top position, but only for a matter of seconds before Dariush rolled for a leg lock to sweep and locked in a deep heel hook. Much like the armbar he was in against Oliveira, it was sickeningly deep but he refused to tap despite being in obvious pain. Once Dariush released the hold, he essentially just continued having his way on top for remainder of the stanza.
Ferguson's leg was definitely compromised to start the final round, and Dariush immediately worked wrestling again. Ferguson tried to lock in a guillotine, but was slammed to the mat for his efforts. He managed to scramble up the fence to an awkward north-south position that they remained in for a good while before Dariush managed to pull him off the fence and get to side control. From there it was mostly positional dominance from Dariush, who historically isn't a cardio machine and was probably slowing a bit at that point so he saw fit to just hold his lead and secure the win. With the victory Dariush, who similar to Oliveira had reached a point where it looked like he was no longer in contender consideration, moves to seven-straight victories, just one behind the champ.
Other thoughts: As unfortunate as it was to see a long time top lightweight struggle the way Ferguson has been, I can't say it's surprising. I've been among the few who had been arguing that Ferguson was out of his prime even as he was still winning fights. His style isn't very sustainable, and it was showing prior to this losing streak, with him having to come back in more and more dramatic fashion. Being otherworldly tough and unorthodox is great when you're in your prime, but once you're out of it you need to be able to adjust your style accordingly and Ferguson hasn't been able to.
I think guest analyst Din Thomas pretty much hit the nail on the head during the broadcast when he essentially distilled it down to Ferguson just not having the fundamentals, and while he made it work previously, once you start to decline that's when a lack of fundamentals becomes most glaring and costly. It was surprising and a bit refreshing to see it so bluntly laid out on the broadcast and not dressed up so as to not diminish Ferguson. His fundamentals have always been shaky, and they've always made him easier to hit and take down because he throws himself out of position so much. On the ground and on the feet he thrived on being the tireless, unorthodox, crazy guy who relies on his durability and pressure to get the job done. Many of his wins are attritive, and come after his opponents have had a good amount of success, often hurting or dropping him in the process. He would just always be the guy who never went away and upped his pace when theirs slowed, at which point his technical flaws were neglibible. When a fighter loses a step physically, they have to adjust with fundamentals. If wild hooks worked for you in the past because you had insane hand speed, then once you slow down you better straighten out those punches.
His past couple losses also just recalled a career-long issue he's had with strong wrestlers and grapplers. These days he's looked very easy to takedown, but even in the past he was never impervious to wrestling. He normally just had the cardio and the activity to tire opponents out, but his cardio hasn't appeared to be what it used to be, and Dariush and Oliveira are simply a step above the grapplers he'd been fighting before; he wasn't going to tire them out easily from the bottom, and they have the top game to threaten him enough to prevent his usual high activity off his back. But simply put, for as good as Dariush looked, Ferguson really just plain looked bad out there. He shied away from exchanges and seemed to second-guess his strikes in a way I don't recall ever seeing, and he didn't fight with the confidence he usually exudes. He actually looked considerably worse here than he did against Oliveira. It's a bummer to see him now on a three-fight skid after winning 12-straight and never getting the true title opportunity he deserved, but I think this slump brings some clarity to the question of just how good Ferguson really was, and the answer is not quite as good as many thought.
I don't remember the last time I saw Ferguson look so docile and hesitant in a fight.
Of course the aforementioned narrative somewhat unfairly detracts from Dariush's victory, which was significant regardless of Ferguson's decline. Dariush has really come into his own with an odd combination of unhinged aggression on the feet and staying true to his grappling roots. He's actually similar to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in that when he's out at range he's pretty composed and technical, but once he blitzes forward he loses a lot of sharpness and defensive savvy; though I'd say it's even more of a stark contrast for Dariush. That combined with his willingness to mix in his wrestling just seems to work for him these days. On top of that he just looks to be a bit smarter in his approach. As opposed to when he fought Scott Holtzman and Drakkar Klose, two good but not super threatening fighters on the feet, he knew not to extend striking exchanges with Diego Ferreira or Ferguson because it'd probably be a matter of time before they found a shot that could change the tide of the fight while also having the chins to make it a dog fight that would tire Dariush down the stretch. Dariush is making his way up the ladder once more at lightweight, and I'm actually really intrigued at a potential future match up with Oliveira.
Next for Dariush: This win thrusts him into the top five, where things are getting a bit crowded and honestly he can be shoved in wherever works. If Chandler and Gaethje don't fight each other next, he could take on either of them, as well as the loser of Poirier vs McGregor. If you want to temper his push because the win over an essentially shot Ferguson may not give a satisfactory picture of where he really belongs in the division, you could give him former teammate Rafael dos Anjos.
Next for Ferguson: After three losses in a row, I think Ferguson really needs a step down and a more palatable style match up. Unfortunately for him this is lightweight and that's not very easy to come by. Dan Hooker is also still out there and that'd be a fun fight. Diego Ferreira might be the next best option, but it could also run the risk of Ferguson just being outgrappled again.
Bontorin too powerful and well-rounded for the rangy Schnell
#9 (Flyweight) Rogerio Bontorin def. #8 (Flyweight) Matt Schnell by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
What happened?: Schnell arguably lost all three rounds, but wasn't exactly wiped out so much as he really couldn't fully get going in the fight in the face of Bontorin's power, and later his grappling.
How did that happen?: Schnell's plan clearly revolved around his new sense of focus and using his reach to outwork more aggressive opponents and tire them out, but he soon found out that Bontorin wouldn't concede the range the way Tyson Nam did. After a feeling out period, Schnell scored with jabs and low kicks, but Bontorin's power was a clear difference maker, as a left hand landed hard and stopped his momentum. Schnell probably would've done well to up his pace to tire Bontorin, who had missed weight for the fight, out over time but he was clearly becoming uncomfortable with the strikes coming his way. A hard low kick tripped him to the mat, and although Schnell was able to briefly stun Bontorin with a left hook of his own, the low kicks were definitely appearing to bother him.
Bontorin seemed to land the more impactful shots.
But both men had their moments.
In round two Schnell once again started out with some success and actually did begin to turn up the pressure, but Bontorin's power once again interjected, as he knocked Schnell's mouthpiece loose with a big left hand, and a straight right rocked him to the point that he stumbled backward. It was the most significant offense in a round that Schnell was arguably winning beforehand. The final round was back-and-forth to start until Bontorin roared forward with a four-punch combo that backed Schnell to the cage, where he flurried on his compromised foe until he looked to start wilting and lost his mouthpiece following a flying knee. Perhaps fortunately for Schnell, Bontorin opted to take him down at hat point, but while it did give him time to recover, he ate a few heavy elbows and some big right hands when he scrambled to his knees. He attempted to roll through the position but just ended up on his back in side control before the horn.
Other thoughts: The fight was entertaining and well-matched, if not incredibly interesting. The most memorable moment was probably in that final round where Schnell lost his mouthpiece and it not only took the referee forever to pick it up, but once he did he never paused the action to put it back in, leaving Schnell to eat several shots with his mouth unprotected. The most memorable narrative coming out of the fight is probably the fact that this fight was contested at bantamweight because of the short notice, both men are flyweights, but Bontorin is so big that he still managed to miss weight. But anyway, like I said, the fight was fine. I dunno if I would've given it such a high main card slot, but it was good nonetheless.
Next for Bontorin: I'd probably go with Brandon Royval or the winner of Tim Elliott vs Su Mudaerji. Seeing as how this was a bantamweight fight and he still missed weight, I don't necessarily think he should be put in position to shoot up the flyweight rankings in his next fight.
Next for Schnell: He could fight the Elliott vs Mudaerji loser.
Chookagian ekes out a decision on the strength of her cardio and volume
#2 Katlyn Chookagian def. #7 Viviane Araujo by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
What happened?: In a close, contentious decision, Chookagian took a while to get going and be comfortable in exchanges, but following some early round two dominance from Araujo the tide shifted. A fatigued Araujo fell victim to Chookagian's usual brand of tireless volume striking that led her to razor thin, but unanimous decision.
How did that happen?: Araujo took the center of the octagon early and definitely looked the quicker, harder hitter of the two. Chookagian clearly struggled with this early as she looked rather uncomfortable in a lot of the pocket exchanges and often pulled back on strikes and turned her head away from attacks. As she started to gain composure, she used front kicks to the body liberally to manage the distance, and although Chookagian would narrowly outstrike her in the numbers, it was clear that Araujo landed the cleaner, harder blows.
Chookagian immediately picked things up in the second round, taking Araujo off her feet with a front kick to the body and picking her apart with jabs and low kicks while Araujo threw big looping shots and missed. Things went awry for her when Araujo caught a kick and managed to drag her down and into half guard. Araujo worked for a guillotine, and perhaps the only thing that saved Chookagian was that she diligently locked down Araujo's leg and didn't allow her to pass guard. At one point there was a moment that looked very close to a tap, but replays showed that it was most likely just Chookagian repositioning her hand, plus while the choke was tight, she was still in half guard so it wasn't really the optimal position for the choke.
Araujo eventually did extricate her leg and get to mount, but in that moment also let go of Chookagian's neck for some reason. She then attacked an arm triangle after Chookagian managed to recover 3/4 mount, but couldn't find it before Chookagian scrambled back up to her feet. Once standing again Araujo was visibly tired, and ever the bastion of cardio, Chookagian was still fresh. This was where the tide of the fight really shifted, and Chookagian began landing almost at will while the couple shots Araujo landed were noticeably slower and lacked the power they did earlier in the fight.
The final round was pretty much all Chookagian, as she turned up her volume considerably and picked Araujo apart at range with a steady diet of jabs, front kicks, and 1-2's for pretty much the entire stanza. It was a close, back-and-forth affair through much of the contest, but in the end the judges sided with Chookagian's success on the feet instead of Araujo's grappling work.
In a close, back-and-forth contest, Chookagian's volume won out.
Other thoughts: There was some controversy here, as many fans felt Araujo deserved the decision, and 10 of 17 media outlets echoed that on MMADecisions.com. Round two was the obvious swing round here. Round one was close but Araujo clearly landed the better shots, while round three was dominant for Chookagian. In round two Chookagian put on strong showings in the first and last minutes of the round, but those moments bookended a dominant grappling display from Araujo where she had a near submission and achieved dominant position for a good amount of time. I point this out a fair amount in close decisions, but much of it really just comes down to the subjectivity of scoring, and with that in mind round two wasn't a foregone conclusion for either fighter. Chookagian's work in the beginning and end of the round was significant, and of course ending the round dominantly tends to carry more weight with a lot of judges. Not to mention when damage is favored, striking tends to win out over grappling, which is why these days more than ever I stress that fighters should be actively trying to land damaging ground and pound when they're on top; just going for positions and submissions just doesn't cut it unless you get something significant out of it damage-wise.
Araujo having Chookagian in trouble with a guillotine and holding mount for a good amount of time is significant enough to feasibly give the round to her, but you can also look at it through the lens of what she actually achieved in terms of cumulative damage with that control, and argue that it wasn't that much. She didn't land a single strike of note while she was in mount, and while her guillotine was tight, as mentioned she was in half guard the whole time it was locked in so in all reality it could have looked worse for Chookagian than it actually was. And for all of that effective work Araujo did, she still came out of it worse for wear because she didn't do much actual damage and just tired herself out. If you were to show someone the fight right when they stood up and tell that person that one of these fighters dominated the other on the ground just prior, most people would think it was Chookagian who outworked Araujo. And it's not like she did a ton of work or damage to earn that fatigue; being significantly more tired than your opponent is much more forgivable when you really went to town on them on the ground, as Chandler did to Oliveira in round one; but that wasn't the case here. Araujo just looked like she had poor cardio. So it's understandable that with these things in consideration, you can give round two to Chookagian while it's also understandable that someone else may be inclined to just reward the fact that Araujo controlled a significant three of the five minutes in the round, held dominant position for a good portion of that time, and had a solid submission attempt.
What was less forgivable was notable bad judge (and referee) Marcos Rosales' 30-27 Chookagian scorecard. While Chookagian statistically outlanded Araujo, the stats aren't available to the judges live and it was pretty clear that Araujo had command of the striking exchanges and landed the better shots in the first round. But hey, a bad judge in MMA, what else is new? I guess it's at least a good thing that his bad card didn't actually affect who won the decision. It's also worth mentioning that Chookagian might just have an attractive style to judges, because close decisions tend to go to her. Volume definitely goes a long way with them, so I think there's something to that. As for Araujo, although it would've been nice to see some new blood among the top at 125 lbs, this might have been best for her because I don't think she's ready just yet. Though with the state of the division I don't think she can avoid it for long anyway. Until thin Chookagian just continues to turn away almost anyone looking to be top two in the division.
Next for Chookagian: That's tough because she's already fought for the title and lost horribly, and she's fought and beaten most of the top 10 to boot. The winner of Lauren Murphy vs Joanne Calderwood would be a rematch with a woman she's already beaten her either way, but I imagine the winner of the fight will probably be positioned for a title shot since neither of them have fought for the belt. Otherwise she's beaten everyone else near her in the rankings. Alexa Grasso might literally be the only choice left for her, and while that's an interesting fight on paper, it's a big leap up rankings-wise for Grasso, who sits at number 10.
Next for Araujo: She's still a flawed prospect, but she showed some promise here and her stock didn't really fall. Cynthia Calvillo would be a good way to go.
Barboza short-circuits Burgos with crazy delayed reaction knockout
#13 Edson Barboza def. #9 Shane Burgos by TKO via strikes (1:16, R3)
What happened?: For two rounds the fight was every bit the back-and-forth war many expected it to be, with Burgos marching forward and landing boxing combinations while Barboza found counters and battered him with low kicks. But then an overhand right early in the final round appeared to be eaten by Burgos without much issue, only for him to suddenly wilt and gradually lose consciousness literally seconds after the shot landed.
How did that happen?: There was nothing odd about the first 10 minutes of the bout. Neither man wasted much time making their intentions known; Barboza immediately slammed two low kicks into Burgos that quickly looked to have an effect, while Burgos looked to interrupt his momentum with counters and slick boxing combinations. Barboza definitely had the lion's share of the success early in the round, but over time Burgos started to get the timing down a bit and avoid some of the low kicks while finding success in his jab and with hard left hooks to the body. Still, Burgos never really jumped out in front of the round, and Barboza regained momentum late with a jab and a right hand that both buckled him late.
The second round was also close but a better round for Burgos. He turned up the pressure immediately and found a home for a couple solid right hands. He also started working the body even more, punishing Barboza's body with hard left hooks and front kicks, while also looking for more low kicks himself, something I thought might be a tactic for him since Barboza historically hasn't responded as well to opponents who are willing to kick with him. Barboza still did find success with low kicks, but also let his hands go more in this round to pretty good results, including a nice quick body-head left hook combination that stunned Burgos a bit. Later in the round Burgos really started to sell out on the left hook to the body and landed several of them, followed by a right to the body and a right hook up top. Barboza tried his patented wheel kick before the horn and just missed. It was a much more competitive round where both men had great moments.
Barboza looked quick and sharp.
Burgos started the third round pressuring again, no doubt feeling some urgency, and the two men mostly traded hard low kicks early before Barboza followed a jab with a huge right hand that landed flush on the chin. Burgos appeared to eat it well and bounced around at distance for a good few seconds before suddenly his brain realized what had just happened. His eyes went wide and vacant, and he stumbled backward into the cage before rolling over completely out of it. Barboza rushed in and managed to land a couple shots on a prone Burgos, but they were unnecessary since he was already unconscious. It was a wild finish, and a great performance from both men. Oddly still, neither man's attritive efforts really seemed to pay dividends in the fight. Barboza landed a ton of hard low kicks, but Burgos showed no real ill effects from them in his movement; and Burgos slammed Barboza with hooks to the body, but his cardio didn't seem any worse for wear.
The fight was just awesome, have a tweet dump!
Other thoughts: That might have been the most bizarre finish I've ever seen in my 20+ years of watching this sport. Even in that loss Burgos has to have one of the all-time great poker faces, because no one knew how badly he was hurt...even himself. We've seen delayed reactions before, usually from from body shots, but even in the rare occasions that it has happened from shots to the head, they always resulted in TKOs because the victim was worse off than they thought but still conscious. I've never before seen a fighter go from appearing completely with it and conscious to out cold without eating a single shot in between. I think the simplest explanation was that when he bounced around he was pretty much already out but his body was just in autopilot accessing muscle memory before it gave out. I just hope that wasn't the result of something serious and Burgos is okay; he does have a style that sees him eat quite a bit of punishment, and although he'd only been stopped by strikes once before, he'd been hurt and/or dropped in several other fights.
I expected Burgos to win this one going in, but I'm very glad Barboza was able to get it done, and even happier that he actually looked right at home at featherweight. He really didn't look at all diminished, and while I've previously commented that he doesn't look to have a speed advantage moving down in weight, he looked plenty fast out there in addition to packing more power. The elite of the division still stand to pose some notable difficulties for him, but it's good to see him benefitting from the divisional change and gaining new life at 145 lbs. He may turn into a contender yet.
Next for Barboza: Barboza should make his way into the top 10 with this victory, and I think someone right around the bottom of that list should be next for him. Giga Chikadze would make for a really fun striker's delight. If they want to move him even further up the rankings, Josh Emmett or Calvin Kattar would also be entertaining striking battles.
Next for Burgos: Sodiq Yusuff makes as much sense as anyone, and it should be fireworks as well.
Andre Muniz def. Ronaldo Souza by submission via arm bar (3:59, R1)
Who on earth expected this to happen? When Muniz declared that he was a better grappler than Souza many, including myself, that he was mental; but in the end, you have to give that to him since he became the only man in MMA to submit 'Jacare.' It was a bit of a surprise when Muniz managed to easily take Souza down with a double leg, but when he did it again and then hopped on Souza's back the second time he gave it up to stand, his declaration looked considerably less crazy. As Souza tried to dump him over the top, he left his arm dangling a little too long and Muniz snatched it up before turning his hips at an odd angle to crank the armlock, snapping Souza's humerus and ending the fight just like that. If I'm not mistaken, it was basically a 'Mir lock,' the inverted shoulder lock that Frank Mir used to submit Pete Williams early in his UFC run. It was gruesome stuff, and Muniz definitely put himself on the map as someone to look out for in the middleweight division, but how about Souza's toughness? He responded to that arm break like it was a minor inconvenience, and seemed much more disappointed that he lost the fight than his arm being snapped in half, even calmly congratulating Muniz and talking to the officials afterward before being rushed off to the hospital. That's some otherworldly toughness.
#11 Andrea Lee def. #12 Antonina Shevchenko by submission via triangle arm bar (4:52, R2)
Once again displaying the gulf in talent between the Shevchenko sisters, Antonina just can't keep it together once she's taken down. I wondered why the odds were so close for the fight when I had a strong feeling that things would hit the ground at some point and Lee is just better there. Even on the feet, for as vaunted as her striking is, Shevchenko isn't really someone to fear unless you're in the clinch, where she can land some brutal knees, but also open herself up to takedowns as she did here. At range she's still not particularly quick or defensively responsible, and was rocked by a right hand late in the first round that led to her being taken down.
This ended up serving as the foundation for the rest of the fight, as Shevchenko found herself on the wrong end of a head and arm throw, and quickly trapped in a crucifix. Lee easily hopped into mount and locked in a mounted triangle before rolling over to her back to cinch it in. Lee's no ace grappler herself so she made plenty of errors that led to a comically long triangle choke attempt, but lucky for her she was in there with someone even more flawed on the ground. The tap could've come much earlier if she just pulled down on Shevchenko's head to tighten it, focused more on transitioning to an armbar, and/or hooked Shevchenko's leg to take her base out from under her, but she mostly just worked for angles and tried to tighten the triangle grip. Eventually with 10 seconds left she cranked the arm to get the tap. It was a solid win for Lee, and another insight into why Valentina has never seemed to have any issues with Antonina fighting in the same division she holds the title in.
You'd think with who her sister is she'd be able to handle herself better in these situations.
Lando Vannata def. Mike Grundy by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
Thankfully the right man got his hand raised here, but holy hell, what was up with Patrick Patlan's 30-27 Grundy card? That makes zero sense. Even Marcos Rosales at least manage to land on the right fighter. For the better part of three rounds, Vannata clearly outstruck Grundy, denied most of his takedowns (17 of 20, in fact), and when he was taken down he almost always popped back up without giving up any significant offense. Even though he was vastly outstruck (more than four-to-one), most of Grundy's significant offense happened in round two, where he mostly just threw right hands and shot for takedowns, but pretty much every right hand he landed was just as hard or harder than anything Vannata landed in the round. Even still, you could easily give that one to Vannata on volume. Grundy got better in the final round, which was much more competitive, but he still needs to work on his phase shifting, as was pointed out in the broadcast. He tends to just strike or just wrestle, rather than using his strikes to set up his wrestling or vice-versa. As for Vannata, he looked very good at 145 lbs, and maybe now he can rack up some wins.
Vannata's takedown defense was on point.
Jordan Wright def. Jamie Pickett by TKO via strikes (1:04, R1)
Not much to this one. It was a quick, wild fight where both men crashed into each other, and the turning point came when Pickett looked for a double leg against the cage, and Wright smashed him with downward elbows while sprawling, forcing him to his hands and knees, where he ate more punishment before making his way up to his feet to retreat. Wright just chased after him though, and when he caught up to him he grabbed a clinch and dropped Pickett with a well-placed knee. He then unleashed a torrent of hammerfists and elbows on Pickett, who really couldn't do much but cover up and await the stoppage. I'm always down for a wild, quick brawl, and Wright seems to be good for it. Plus I think it's funny he puts out a calm, level-headed martial artist aura before his fights and after his wins, but once the fight starts he's all flailing limbs and no defense. Maybe chill on the kung fu poses and solemn bowing when you fight like a wacky inflatable tube man once the bell rings.
Priscila Cachoeira def. Gina Mazany by TKO via strikes (4:51, R2)
Cachoeira, once thought of as maybe the worst fighter at women's flyweight, got it done again. This time against James Krause charge and Tim Elliott partner Gina Mazany, who seemed to have inherited some of Elliott's old bad habits. After easily taking the opening round on the strength of her wrestling, and having early success in the second round doing the same thing, the women were stood up for lack of activity and Mazany did not look fresh anymore. Her strikes became labored and her shots more telegraphed so Cachoeira easily rebuffed them and made her pay with right hands. Once Cachoeira had her backed up to the fence, she pretty much had all the time in the world to line up her shots, as Mazany essentially looked too tired to do anything but cover up and brace herself after eating a few right hands. Once she started to just turn and run away from shots, the referee had seen enough. After debuting against the current champion in a dominant loss and dropping her next two decisively, Cachoeira is now on a two-finish streak and finally has some breathing room in the UFC. For all you can say about her, she never stops going after it, and you can definitely credit that mentality for her recent wins.
Tucker Lutz def. Kevin Aguilar by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
This was a fun one where a tough Aguilar had enough to keep it competitive but just couldn't keep up with Lutz throughout. Aguilar started off well and landing his left hand frequently, but once Lutz started finding a home for his check lead hook and landed a double leg, the momentum started to shift considerably. Lutz's left hook was there for most of the second round while Aguilar was able to land right hands to the body, but Lutz still managed to edge out the striking and landed another takedown to seal the deal. Round three was Aguilar's best, as he knew he was down on the cards and really went after it. It was still competitive most of the way through, but toward the end Aguilar really started to get off to the point that this would've been a really interesting five-rounder.
Christos Giagos def. Sean Soriano by submission via d’arce choke (1:01, R2)
This had to have been a tough loss for the returning Soriano. Not only was his return to the UFC spoiled, but he looked pretty good and clearly won the opening round with his superior striking. He really took advantage of Giagos' tendency to throw one strike at a time, and in exchanges he knew he could throw after Giagos and usually land counters successfully. Giagos clearly learned from that round because he immediately shot a takedown in the next round, and although it was immediately reversed, he managed to roll through and still end up on top in side control. Soriano got to his knees and worked for a single, and Giagos took that opportunity to lock up a tight D'arce choke right away and trap Soriano's near leg. Soriano had nowhere to go, but held on until he lost consciousness. Tough break for Soriano, but he did take the fight on short notice, so he'll probably get a decent match up his next time out.
And that's it for UFC 262! All in all it was a solid card that really didn't have a dull fight in the line up, which is all I can really ask for. In the end we have a king at lightweight again, and an inspiring one at that, while we also witnessed the depressing exit of another lightweight from the ranks of the elite. Other than that we saw a delayed reaction knockout and a broken arm to switch things up, and of course some bad judging to show that as much as things change, they also stay the same. Stay tuned for the next one, where Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt battle for boxing supremacy at 135 lbs. Until then, sado out!