Charles Oliveira v Michael Chandler battle to succeed Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 262

Lightweight contest tops the bill at sell-out Houston card

A new UFC lightweight champion will be crowned for the first time in more than three years on Sunday, with Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler headlining UFC 262 in Houston. Here, we look at three of the most exciting bouts on the main card at the sold-out Toyota Center, including the clash to become Khabib Nurmagomedov’s successor.

Charles Oliveira v Michael Chandler (lightweight championship)

Nurmagomedov’s retirement in Abu Dhabi last October was only really confirmed five months later, but with the undefeated Dagestan native vacating his belt, it falls on Oliveira or Chandler to assume the lightweight throne. And what a tussle it promises to be. Oliveira made his UFC bow in 2010 and has since gone on to set the promotion's all-time record for submission victories, with 14. At present, he rides an eight-fight win streak, and is 9-1 since moving back to 155lbs. Most recently, the Brazilian dominated Tony Ferguson to a decision victory in December to cement his title credentials.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 23: Michael Chandler poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Michael Chandler after his victory during the UFC 257 event at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

In contrast, Chandler debuted in the promotion only in January, but announced his arrival in stunning fashion. The American, a three-time Bellator lightweight champion, knocked out title contender Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 257 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, then signalled his championship intentions by calling out Nurmagomedov. Intriguingly, Chandler has never been submitted in his professional career, a run spanning 27 bouts (22-5). What a test he has, though, in his second UFC appearance.

Tony Ferguson v Beneil Dariush (lightweight)

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 09: Tony Ferguson poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on December 9, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Tony Ferguson during a UFC photo session on December 9, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Fan favourite Ferguson is back in what surely represents a make-or-break encounter in regard to his UFC future. The American, for so long expected to really challenge Nurmagomedov for his crown, has not been the same since last May’s TKO defeat to Justin Gaethje in their interim-title encounter. That loss snapped a 12-fight win streak, with Ferguson’s subsequent reverse to Oliveira meaning he’s lost two consecutive bouts for the first time. A former interim champion (25-5), he simply needs to arrest the slide.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 07: Beneil Dariush poses for a portrait backstage after his victory during the UFC 248 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Beneil Dariush after his victory during the UFC 248 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 07, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Another staple of the lightweight division, Dariush has enjoyed a recent bill of rude health, winning his past six fights. During that spell, which includes February’s split decision against the dangerous Carlos Diego Ferreira, the American has collected three Performance of the Night bonuses and one Fight of the Night bonus. Consequently, he has moved on to the fringes of the title picture, although 155lbs remains an incredibly stacked roster. Defeat a major name in Ferguson, though, and Dariush (20-4-1) would serve some notice. Undoubtedly, it would mark his greatest UFC achievement to date.

Edson Barboza v Shane Burgos (featherweight)

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 11: Edson Barboza of Brazil poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on October 11, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Edson Barboza during the UFC Fight Night event in Abu Dhabi last October. Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

There’s only one obvious prediction for this: fireworks. Now 35, Barboza is a veritable UFC veteran having debuted in November 2010. Taking to the octagon for the 25th time, the Brazilian (21-9) will be seeking to turn around fortunes somewhat – he is 2-5 in his past seven outings, although Barboza did win on his most recent appearance, a decision victory Makwan Amirkhani in Abu Dhabi in October. That sits alongside some pretty starry scalps, including Paul Felder, Anthony Pettis and Dan Hooker. He boasts 12 knockouts in those 21 triumphs.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 18: Shane Burgos poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on June 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Shane Burgos poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on June 18, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Burgos, meanwhile, has impressed for the majority since his UFC bow at the end of 2016, racking up six wins from his eight outings – including three Fight of the Night bonuses. However, the American (13-2) had been building a decent head of steam until his unanimous-decision defeat to compatriot Josh Emmett last June, which snapped a three-fight winning streak. Able to knockout opponents or submit them, Burgos will be intent on climbing the featherweight rankings. Currently, he sits as the No 9 contender.

Published: May 13, 2021 07:48 AM

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