Charles Oliveira (-135) vs Michael Chandler (+115)
You can do pretty much anything at lightweight and it will be guaranteed fireworks. This fight for the vacant lightweight championship is no different as two fighters at the top of their division square off in Saturday night’s main event in front of a jam packed Houston crowd to see who will become the new kingpin of the 155 division.
It feels very surreal that Charles Oliveira entered the UFC eleven years ago as primarily a jiu-jitsu fighter with very little striking efficiency. The 20-year old Brazilian prospect arrived on the UFC scene way back in August of 2010 on the preliminary card with a 12-0 record. Fast forward many, many years later and he has fought a who’s who of elite fighters under the UFC brand. Winning a lot of those and losing a handful of them; against the likes of Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, Jeremy Stephens, Jim Miller, Kevin Lee, and picking up the biggest win of his career in his most recent fight against Tony Ferguson. The most important aspect of Oliveira’s career is just how great of a well rounded fighter he has become. Relying on his refined muay thai and crisp striking to set up knock-out victories or leading to submissions that nearly every fighter can never escape. Oliveira’s surging eight-fight win streak has led him to a championship title fight in which it has been a culmination of a life’s work to get there.
As for Do Bronx’s opponent – ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler is new to the UFC but definitely not new to fighting. The 27-fight veteran has spent a majority of his career competing under the Bellator promotion which saw him hold the promotion’s lightweight title a total of three times with three successful title defenses. He holds notable wins over Benson Henderson, Patricky Freire, Dan Hooker, and Eddie Alvarez (their 2011 fight is one of MMA’s best). The 35-year old Chandler became a free agent in the summer of 2020 and decided to pursue the UFC in hopes of capturing the world title before retirement. He has all the tools to get the job done as the University of Missouri Alumni is an explosive fighter who packs a heavy punch with 10 knockout wins to his credit. Most recently finishing Dan Hooker in the first round at UFC 257. Chandler has always been considered one of the best fighters to have never been signed to the UFC and he’ll have his chance to claim gold once again.
I ultimately see this fight playing out a couple of different ways and they all end up in a finish. For Chandler he will need to put immediate pressure on Oliveira and not allow him to become comfortable in striking distance. Leg kicks, jabs, and powerful combos to eventually finish Oliveira would be the ideal and best scenario for Chandler. Oliveira’s striking defense is still questionable at times so a Chandler KO is possible. I definitely wouldn’t recommend Chandler engaging in any kind of clinch work or grappling with Oliveira as that is Do Bronx’s expertise and could lead to Chandler getting caught in a choke. Even wrestling (something that Chandler specializes in) would be a bad idea because once again Chandler would be playing in Oliveira’s world of grappling and could get caught in a submission. As for Oliveira, if he can handle the pressure and keep Chandler at a distance with jabs and strong leg kicks to eat away at Chandler’s strong base then it will help him immensely the longer the fight goes. If Oliveira wins a submission or TKO victory is highly possible for him. He will either capitalize on a submission opportunity or can even hurt Chandler with his hands due to Chandler’s iffy chin.
I’ll be picking Oliveira here as I just think this is his time and he has all the right tools and abilities to secure the big victory this weekend. I won’t be surprised at all if he loses as this is a very close fight but I do think Oliveira will win. Oliveira by TKO is (+450) which is really good value for someone who can definitely crack Chandler’s chin and finish him for a TKO victory.
If you would like a “safer” bet then the fight to not go to decision is (-350).
Prop: Charles Oliveira wins by TKO (+450)
Thanks for reading and best of luck!