UFC 274 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Oliveira vs. Gaethje

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2022

UFC 274 Fight Card: PPV Schedule, Odds and Predictions for Oliveira vs. Gaethje

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    UFC 274's main event pairs the best lightweight in the world against its most exciting, with Charles Oliveira taking on Justin Gaethje with the lightweight belt on the line for Gaethje. 

    Unfortunately, the belt is no longer an option for Oliveira. The now-former champ was forced to vacate the belt after missing weight by 0.5 pounds, thus making it a title fight for Gaethje only. 

    Even if he's no longer officially champion, Oliveira has surprisingly established himself as the lightweight's top fighter the hard way. After years of being stuck in neutral within the division, he is on a 10-fight win streak that features wins over Kevin Lee, Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier. 

    The most recent of which was his first title defense against The Diamond. He was able to dispatch Poirier with a rear-naked choke in the third round. Now, he faces a dangerous striker and grappler in Gaethje. 

    There's no such thing as an easy title defense in the lightweight division, and it rings true in this bout. 

    What Oliveira will do to combat Gaethje's relentless aggression is a key question heading into the night. Here's a look at the other questions that will define the action on Saturday night. 

UFC 274 Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—May 7

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

    • Charles Oliveira -180 (bet $180 to win $100) vs. Justin Gaethje +155 (bet $100 to win $155)—lightweight championship (Oliveira was forced to vacate his belt and can not win the championship)
    • Rose Namajunas (c) -210 vs. Carla Esparza +175—women's strawweight championship
    • Michael Chandler -365 vs. Tony Ferguson +280
    • Ovince Saint Preux -240 vs. Mauricio Rua +195
    • Donald Cerrone -190 vs. Joe Lauzon +160

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

    • Khaos Williams -115 vs. Randy Brown -105
    • Norma Dumont -235 vs. Macy Chiasson +190
    • Brandon Royval -240 vs. Matt Schnell +195
    • Francisco Trinaldo -115 vs. Danny Roberts -105

    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 5:30 p.m. ET)

    • Tracy Cortez -145 vs. Melissa Gatto +125
    • Kleydson Rodrigues -350 vs. CJ Vergara +270
    • Loopy Godinez -180 vs. Ariane Carnelossi +155
    • Journey Newson +125 vs. Fernie Garcia -145
    • Andre Fialho -410 vs. Cameron Vancamp +310
    • Blagoy Ivanov -150 vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima +130

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook 

How Will Oliveira Handle Gaethje's Pressure?

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    Recently, Charles Oliveira has learned to brawl a bit. He got into a slugfest with Michael Chandler that resulted in a knockout win after knocking him down twice, per UFC Stats. He was willing to stand toe-to-toe with Dustin Poirier as well. 

    But Oliveira merely adopted the slugfest. Justin Gaethje was born into and molded by the chaos of the brawl. 

    Gaethje's best shot at being the bane of Oliveira's title reign is through the unrelenting pressure that he puts on opponents. His ability to just pepper opponents with jabs, leg kicks and the occasional takedown attempt can be draining. 

    Obviously, the champion's submission abilities might dissuade Gaethje from doing any grappling. But it's still daunting to fend off all the striking volume. 

    Oliveira's weight cut miss only magnifies that concern. Even though it's only half a pound, it opens up concerns that something may have gone wrong with his pre-fight preparations. 

    Oliveira has earned respect throughout his rise to the championship. That's why he's the favorite, but the upset alarms could be ringing by the end of the night. 

    Prediction: Gaethje via fourth-round TKO

Is Esparza's Wrestling Still Enough to Beat Namajunas?

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    Rose Namajunas might be the champion now, but it wasn't an easy path to get there. Her first crack at gold came over seven years ago, and it didn't go well. 

    Coming out of The Ultimate Fighter 20, Namajunas—who was only 22 at the time—built up quite the hype train ahead of a title fight against Carla Esparza. 

    That train was momentarily derailed by Esparza. Cookie Monster took her down five times en route to a third-round submission victory. 

    Simply put, Namajunas wasn't ready for that kind of fight or pressure at that point. She had won all of her fights in the tournament by submission, but Esparza's power wrestling was just too much. 

    Fast-forward to today, and Esparza is a fairly big underdog to be able to do the same thing. Yet the central question remains: Can she have her way with her wrestling?

    Based on Namajunas' fight against Zhang Weili, the answer is no. The former champion's wrestling is top-tier, yet Thug Rose was able to negate it and pick up the split-decision victory. 

    Prediction: Namajunas via third-round TKO

Is Tony Ferguson Still Good?

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    This question might seem like an oversimplification, but it's a valid one. 

    Tony Ferguson isn't that far removed from having a 12-fight win streak that spanned seven years. That culminated in a TKO loss to Justin Gaethje and two additional losses to get to 0-3 in the last two years. 

    So the question is whether Ferguson has declined that sharply or if the losing streak is just a product of tough competition. If it's the latter, El Cucuy could still be in trouble. Michael Chandler is on a two-fight skid of his own, but he brings plenty of tools to the table. 

    For Ferguson, losses to Gaethje and Charles Oliveira are not necessarily signs he is shot. The two happen to be fighting for the title for a reason. However, his decision loss to Beneil Dariush tells a different story. 

    If Ferguson can return to his form when he was beating the likes of Edson Barboza, Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis, then this is going to be an interesting fight. 

    If not, Chandler is good enough to make this one-sided. 

    Prediction: Chandler via decision


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