UFC 262 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for Oliveira vs. Chandler

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2021

UFC 262 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds, Predictions for Oliveira vs. Chandler

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The lightweight division will officially move on from Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 262 as Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will fight for the title left behind by The Eagle at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. 

    The departure of the dominant champion leaves the division in a state of flux. There's plenty of debate to be had about whether Chandler and Oliveira are the two best men to fight for the crown, but that will likely be settled in the cage in the coming months. 

    For now, the winner is going to be the new champion of one of the organization's best divisions. That's enough to make UFC 262 must-see TV on its own. 

    The co-main event will also bring some definition to the division. Tony Ferguson returns and will be met by Beneil Dariush. El Cucuy has lost back-to-back fights, while Dariush comes in on a hot streak. 

    How much Ferguson has left to give and who will be the lightweight champion for now are two of the biggest questions that will be answered Saturday night. Here's a look at the complete card and a breakdown of some of the biggest questions. 

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—May 15

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Main Card (ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Charles Oliveira (-134, bet $100 to win $74.63) vs. Michael Chandler (+110, bet $100 to win $110), lightweight championship bout
    • Tony Ferguson (+135) vs. Beneil Dariush (-165)
    • Katlyn Chookagian (-141) vs. Viviane Araujo (+115)
    • Shane Burgos (-152) vs. Edson Barboza (+125)
    • Matt Schnell (-165) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (+135)

    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Jacare Souza (-129) vs. Andre Muniz (+105)
    • Lando Vannata (+106) vs. Mike Grundy (-129)
    • Andrea Lee (+100) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (-122)
    • Jordan Wright (-112) vs. Jamie Pickett (-109)

    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET)

    • Gina Mazany (-225) vs. Priscila Cachoeira (+180)
    • Kevin Aguilar (+103) vs. Tucker Lutz (-125)
    • Christos Giagos (-220) vs. Sean Soriano (+176)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Who Takes the Early Lead in the Quest to Replace Nurmagomedov?

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    When a longtime champion vacates the belt, there's always going to be an arbitrary feel to who gets the first crack at it. That's definitely true in the lightweight division. 

    Michael Chandler has fought just once under the UFC banner. Charles Oliveira has put together a nice winning streak, but precisely one of those wins has come against a top-10 opponent. 

    In short, whoever wins on Saturday night is going to have some proving to do. 

    It helps to think of the subsequent set of lightweight championship bouts as a series to determine who the real kingpin of the division is. Chandler and Oliveira get the first crack but will have to prove it against a top challenger. 

    Potentially, that challenger could come from the co-main event, or it could come from the winner of the Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor trilogy fight set for July 10. 

    Either way, we are going to get the early leader in the clubhouse after Saturday's fight. Both have their merits, but Chandler's punching power gives him the edge in the standup, and the grappling could be a stalemate as Chandler's power wrestling is a good answer to Oliveira's slick jiu-jitsu. 

    Prediction: Chandler via third-round TKO

Does Tony Ferguson Have Anything Left?

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Life comes at you fast in MMA. Heading into a fight with Justin Gaethje just over a year ago, it seemed like we would finally get the Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov fight we always wanted. 

    Fast-forward a year and Nurmagomedov has walked away from the sport, and it's fair to wonder if Ferguson won't be too far behind. 

    Gaethje spoiled the potential dream matchup as he put El Cucuy away with a fifth-round TKO and snapped the winning streak that was the backbone of Ferguson's case. His bounce-back attempt didn't go too well either. He followed it up with a decision loss to Charles Oliveira who will now get a title shot. 

    Now he draws Beneil Dariush, who brings considerable momentum into the fight. The 32-year-old is on a six-fight win streak, albeit against competition a few levels below Ferguson. Regardless, Ferguson is now 37, and deterioration of skills can happen rapidly in this sport. 

    It's hard to pick him against an ascendant Dariush, who has the striking and grappling to handle Ferguson's unorthodox style. 

    Prediction: Dariush via decision

Is Viviane Araujo a Title Contender?

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    No division is more desperate for a title contender than women's flyweight. 

    Women's bantamweight also has Amanda Nunes running the division, but Valentina Shevchenko has been just as dominant in her division. The well has run dry for both champions to fight anyone but each other, and we've already seen that twice. 

    That's why when someone puts together a run like Viviane Araujo has, the UFC is pretty quick to fast-track her to a title shot. The Brazilian is 4-1 in her first five UFC fights, with back-to-back wins over Montana De La Rosa and Roxanne Modafferi. 

    A win over Chookagian would likely set her up for a date with Shevchenko. But getting past Chookagian won't be easy.

    The 32-year-old isn't dangerous in terms of finishing power; she only has three stoppage victories to her name. She is, however, a wily striker who is capable of outpointing nearly anyone on the feet. This will be a great test of Araujo's explosiveness and ability to close the distance and force her fight. 

    She will need a similar game plan to what she would need to give Shevchenko a fight. 

    Prediction: Araujo via decision

             

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