UFC 262’s main event was a tale of two fighters with very differing paths to their first UFC title shot.
For Michael Chandler, the former face of Bellator MMA and a multi-time champion in that promotion, it was a quick ride to the top of the UFC: a free agent signing, role as a back-up fighter for Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje, and a finish of Dan Hooker, and presto: the shortest path to UFC gold, potentially anyway, since Anderson Silva.
Of course, that discounts the time Chandler put in under the Bellator banner — but as a three-time champion in his old home, those efforts had largely been rewarded.
Charles Oliveira, the UFC’s submission king, took a very different path to the title shot on Saturday. The long route. Oliveira had toiled among the UFC rank and file for the better part of a decade before embarking on an eight-fight win streak in 2018. Now over 10 years into his UFC tenure, he was entering his 28th bout inside the octagon Saturday — with a chance to claim the title vacated by Nurmagomedov late last year.
Just as Chandler’s path to potential gold had been the shortest, Oliveira’s had been the longest. Perhaps it made it that much sweeter in the end.
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.
In the second, Oliveira added an early knockdown! A left hook connected, and Chandler was rocked. Charles Oliveira moved in for the kill! A handful of follow-up strikes, and Oliveira launched himself out of the octagon, celebrating in with the broadcast team, stopping to talk to Dana White, and celebrating with the crowd. 28 fights later, and “Do Bronx” was a UFC champion.
OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!!
— UFC (@ufc) May 16, 2021
“I’m the lion of lions,” Oliveira exclaimed following the fight.
Official Result: Charles Oliveira def. Michael Chandler by TKO, Round 2, 0:19