Charles Oliveira and the Real Winners and Losers from UFC 262
The more time passes, the more normal it feels.
The UFC returned to a fan-filled house on U.S. soil for the second time in three weeks Saturday night, bringing a 12-bout pay-per-view extravaganza to the Toyota Center in Houston.
The announced attendance was 16,005 fans.
UFC 262 featured high-profile lightweights Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler fighting for the 155-pound title that was declared vacant when unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov confirmed his retirement.
Ex-interim champ Tony Ferguson met ninth-ranked contender Beneil Dariush in a co-main event that also featured lightweights, spotlighting a division that includes big names, former belt-holders and bona fide pay-per-view headliners like Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
The show came 21 days after Kamaru Usman met Jorge Masvidal in the UFC 261 main event in Jacksonville, Florida, which was the promotion's first fan-attended event since March 7, 2020, and drew a crowd of better than 15,000 fans.
Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Joe Rogan handled broadcast duties for ESPN+, and the B/R combat sports team was in position to digest results and compile the authoritative list of winners and losers.
Click through to see what we came up with and drop us a thought of your own in the comments.
Winner: Delayed Gratification
Charles Oliveira gently caressed it. He kissed it, hugged it and ran around with it.
He then cradled it and gazed at it as if it were a newborn baby.
But it was the UFC's lightweight title belt. And after nearly 11 years, it was finally his.
"I wanted to come here and show I was the best in this category," the Brazilian veteran said. "Dana [White], I told you I was going to knock him out, and I came and knocked him out.
"I've proven to everybody I'm the lion of lions."
He had to be to accomplish what he did. In the manner that he did it.
Oliveira stopped Michael Chandler just 19 seconds into Round 2 of their scheduled five-round main event for the vacant 155-pound belt, dramatically rebounding from a first round in which it appeared he was on the verge of a loss.
Instead, the win is his ninth straight in a career renaissance since his last defeat in 2017.
"I think we saw one of the toughest dudes on the planet. We saw him come back from adversity," Chandler said. "Charles Oliveira showed how he is a consummate professional.
"But we'll run this one back eventually."
The powerful Chandler, who'd fought once in the UFC after a long, successful run in other promotions, was taken down in the first round and put into a vulnerable position by his submission-specialist opponent. But he regained his feet and landed several power shots that dropped Oliveira to his knees and had referee Dan Miragliotta taking a close look at his condition in the final 30 seconds.
The Brazilian survived the round, however, and met Chandler in the middle of the cage to begin the second, landing a short counter left hook during an exchange that sent Chandler to the floor. He rose and reeled away as Oliveira pursued, before another left land that instantly dropped Chandler to his knees.
Another series of follow-up left hands drew no competitive response and forced Miragliotta's rescue.
"When you see Charles Oliveira get beat up like he did in Round 1, for it to switch that fast," Rogan said. "And now he's the champion. So crazy. To see a guy go from being a good fighter, an interesting fighter, to one of the best fighters in the world. It's so exemplary.
"The fact that he went in there and took that kind of a beating silenced all of the critics."
Loser: Turning Back the Clock
Tony Ferguson was as good as any fighter in the UFC.
From 2013 to 2019, that is.
But for the third straight bout against a foe he'd probably have handled during that glittering 12-fight run, Ferguson was out-struck, out-landed and out-grappled on the way to a convincing loss.
Ninth-ranked lightweight Beneil Dariush was the beneficiary this time around, getting his 37-year-old opponent to the ground in each round and never easing up while winning matching shutout verdicts of 30-27 on all three official scorecards.
"Now I'm in the conversation," said Dariush, a UFC competitor since 2014. "That was my 20th fight in the UFC, and I'm in the conversation. I'd like to see myself in a title eliminator."
Ferguson was brutally stopped in five rounds by Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title and clearly beaten across 15 minutes by Charles Oliveira in his two bouts last year.
He changed his training team in anticipation of the match with Dariush and promised mayhem but was taken to the ground in the first round and never appeared close to turning the tide.
Dariush got him to the mat again in the second and locked in a heel hook that had Ferguson writhing in pain as his surgically repaired left knee wrenched sideways. But it wasn't enough to draw a submission, though the leg was clearly compromised the rest of the way.
The win was Dariush's seventh in a row, giving him one of the longest active UFC streaks.
"It popped. Tony just went 'F' and then he looked at me like nothing happened," Dariush said.
"He's a zombie in there, no doubt about it."
Winner: Promises Kept
Lots of matchups are promised as Fight of the Year candidates. Few deliver.
But Edson Barboza's three-rounder at featherweight with Shane Burgos did.
The violence-minded 145-pounders attacked each other with nearly every strike imaginable for 10-plus minutes before Burgos' equilibrium finally tapped out at 1:16 of the third.
In his third fight since moving down from lightweight, Barboza hit Burgos with an overhand right that landed cleanly on the left side of his foe's jaw.
Burgos initially took the shot and continued to plod forward, but his body gave way in a dramatic delayed reaction as his knees buckled in slow motion, and he tumbled backward and fell into the cage.
Barboza hesitated for a moment but jumped back into the fray when referee Mike Beltran hesitated, landing two more shots as Burgos lay face-first on the mat, prompting the official intervention.
"The poker face worked for a while, then the body just gave out," Cormier said. "You can see Shane Burgos thinking, 'What is happening? Why am I falling?'"
Barboza wound up with a 98-80 advantage in total strikes—including 51 to the head, 14 to the body and 33 to the legs. It's his 16th victory in the UFC since a 2010 debut, but just his seventh in 14 fights after he'd started his run with nine wins in his first 11 appearances.
Burgos is 6-3 in the UFC but has lost two straight fights since last winning in November 2019.
"I feel more healthy (at 145). I don't have to kill myself to keep my weight," said Barboza, who then played to the crowd, asking, "I think that's the fight of the night, guys, right? What do you think?"
Loser: Queasy Fans, Part II
It wasn't quite as gruesome as three weeks ago.
But it was close.
Rising middleweight Andre Muniz said all week that he'd defeat veteran grappling ace Jacare Souza because of superior ground skills and then went ahead and did it in brutal style—securing an armbar that led to a submission victory after just three minutes, 59 seconds of the first round.
The finish was even more brutal because it came when Souza's right arm appeared to break, which prompted Muniz to immediately release the hold and referee Jacob Montalvo to intervene.
Three weeks ago in Jacksonville, a middleweight bout between Uriah Hall and Chris Weidman ended when Weidman broke his right leg upon landing a kick to Hall's shin.
This time, the apparent snap of Souza's bone was audible on the broadcast, and replays clearly showed Souza's torso jerk at the moment the injury occurred. The 41-year-old Brazilian was quickly escorted from the cage after congratulating his countryman on his triumph.
"I heard it snap," Muniz said. "I let go out of respect. I knew I could hurt him, so I let it go."
The sequence occurred after Muniz took Souza down in the center of the cage—becoming just the third man to do so in the last 10 years—and Souza spun and gave up his back to stand up.
Muniz then climbed on and held on as Souza tried to roll him off. Muniz kept control of the arm during the transition and cinched in the hold that led to the finish.
"I'm a fan of Jacare since I was a kid. He's my idol," Muniz said. "I'm here to stay. I deserve a Top 15 now."
Winner: Validating a Name
The nickname veers toward cheesy.
But if you think it means a guy labeled the "Beverly Hills Ninja" can't fight, you've made a mistake.
Indeed, Jordan Wright maintained a perfect record when it comes to finishes in his MMA career, running that streak to 12 in a row among his wins with a 64-second blowout of Jamie Pickett in a blur of a middleweight bout.
"That is what he does. He overwhelms his opponents, and he throws and throws," Rogan said. "Once he hurt Pickett, he unloaded and let everything go."
The decisive sequence began when Wright stuffed a takedown attempt and responded by dropping a series of right elbows on Pickett, who chose not to let go of his grip around Wright's midsection. The blows eventually drove Pickett to his knees and brought on a further sequence of hammerfists until Pickett regained his feet.
But he was staggered again by an uppercut and dropped by a knee, and then he turned away from Wright as another barrage of ground strikes began landing. That was all referee Kerry Hatley needed to see before he waved things off and allowed Wright to return to the win column after a defeat by Joaquin Buckley in November.
He turned pro in 2014 and won nine in a row. Then he responded to a no-contest with two more finishes before the loss to Buckley at UFC 255 in Las Vegas.
"It feels pretty amazing," Wright said. "I saw his legs buckle and knew it was a matter of time. I have a 100 percent finish rate, and I can tell when guys are hurt."
Anik, speaking for the broadcast team, was duly impressed.
"What a stud," he said.
Loser: Sticking with Chalk
Thanks to the work of the UFC's matchmakers, not a single fighter among Saturday's dozen bouts went off with more than a +155 (bet $100 to win $155) tag alongside their name.
So if you were looking to make big cash, it might not have been your night.
But at least Priscila Cachoeira did her part.
The 32-year-old Brazilian flyweight transformed from biggest underdog to biggest payout, coming off the floor to batter Gina Mazany into a pulp in a bloody early preliminary finale.
"Once I managed to defend and managed to hit her," the winner said menacingly, "I knew she was going to tire out. And then it turns my way."
Indeed, Mazany had managed four takedowns and nearly seven full minutes of control time before running short of gas, at which point Cachoeira began landing heavy strikes.
She opened a jagged gash alongside her foe's left eye with an elbow while still on her back, shortly before referee Mike Beltran stood the fighters up because of a lack of sustained action.
Once that occurred, it was all Cachoeira, who landed a volley of punches that prompted Mazany to turn away as she reeled around the perimeter of the cage. Another barrage of six hard connections followed, finally prompting Beltran's intervention with nine seconds to go in Round 2.
"I felt so safe and so confident," she said. "I'm so happy."
Winner: Beginner's Pluck
He'd already won 11 in a row.
But the 12th was the one that mattered.
Baltimore-based Tucker Lutz made his UFC debut after nearly six years as a pro and made it count in memorable style. He used precision and skill to dominate early and evasion to survive late in defeating decade-plus veteran Kevin Aguilar in a combative featherweight scrap.
The youngest fighter on the show at age 26, Lutz graduated to the Octagon after two wins on Dana White's Contender Series in 2020. He scored takedowns in each of the first two rounds and battered Aguilar from a distance while standing, landing myriad left hands to offset his foe's aggression.
"Kevin is so tough, we knew getting him out of there was going to be difficult," Lutz said. "He's a monster in there."
Indeed, Aguilar pressed the action after a rousing talk from his corner team between the second and third rounds, and had Lutz wobbled and using his legs to avoid prolonged exchanges down the stretch.
Lutz lost his pro debut in 2015 before nine wins on smaller promotions and two on the aforementioned Contender Series shows. He won two scorecards by 29-28 (two rounds to one) margins and one by 30-27. B/R matched the closer scoring gap, giving Aguilar the final round and Lutz the first two.
"The UFC debut in the books," Lutz said, "and we got the W."
UFC 262 Full Card Results
Charles Oliveira def. Michael Chandler by TKO, 0:19, Round 2
Beneil Dariush def. Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Rogerio Bontorin def. Matt Schnell by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Katlyn Chookagian def. Viviane Araujo by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Edson Barboza def. Shane Burgos by TKO, 1:16, Round 3
Andre Muniz def. Jacare Souza by submission (armbar), 3:59, Round 1
Lando Vannata def. Mike Grundy by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
Jordan Wright def. Jamie Pickett by TKO, 1:04, Round 1
Andrea Lee def. Antonina Shevchenko by submission (triangle armbar), 4:52, Round 2
Priscila Cachoeira def. Gina Mazany by TKO, 4:51, Round 2
Tucker Lutz def. Kevin Aguilar by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Christos Giagos def. Sean Soriano by submission (D'Arce choke), 0:59, Round 2
Odds via UFC.com.