Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will be vying for the vacant UFC 155-pound division title that Khabib Nurmagomedov relinquished after retiring from the sport last October.
Chandler will be coming into the fight as an underdog, as his opponent earned a spot in the title picture by amassing eight wins in a row. Charles Oliveira's victory, however, is anything but certain, as Michael Chandler has the potential to pull off a massive upset.
On that note, let's take a look at five reasons why Michael Chandler could beat Charles Oliveira at UFC 262. Let's get started!
#5 Michael Chandler is ready for the big stage
UFC 262 will be Michael Chandler's second fight in the Octagon, while Oliveira has been with the UFC since 2010. But make no mistake, Chandler won't be fazed by the UFC's brighter spotlight, something he proved when he finished lightweight standout Dan Hooker on his debut in the promotion.
Even before that, Michael Chandler owned a stellar track record of succeeding against big names in the sport. Chandler defeated Eddie Alvarez – who went on to become a UFC lightweight champ – in 2011 and ex-UFC 155-pound titleholder Benson Henderson in 2016.
Oliveira's eight-fight win streak is impressive, but Michael Chandler's three straight knockouts is arguably as spectacular a feat. If Chandler can make it four in a row, he'd be walking out of UFC 262 as the new king of the lightweight division.
#4 Charles Oliveira might be underestimating Michael Chandler
Charles Oliveira recently claimed that his opponent's three KO finishes in a row doesn't impress him,:
"I’ll respect him, but I’ll walk forward the entire time,” Charles Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “If he comes to hit me hard, he’ll eat a counter. We both walk forward all the time. It will be two trucks colliding. I’m not afraid of getting hit. Hit me."
Granted, Oliveira did say he respects Michael Chandler's power. The rest of his statement, however, gives an impression that he really doesn't respect his opponent's striking all that much.
Against a heavy-hitter like Michael Chanlder, that could prove to be a massive mistake. If Chandler's three knockouts in a row doesn't impress Oliveira, perhaps four straight would.
#3 Michael Chandler is the better wrestler
In a battle of two talented strikers, the better wrestler out of the two might just get the advantage. In this case, that fighter is Michael Chandler.
To his credit, Charles Oliveira recognises that Michael Chandler has the edge in the wrestling department.
"All he has is a heavy hand, a heavy punch. I’m complete on the feet and complete on the ground. The only thing he has better than me is wrestling, but I’ll use my jiu-jitsu if he tries to wrestle me, so it makes no difference to me," Charles Oliveira said during an interview with MMA Fighting.
Charles Oliveira made a valid point, as he does have the superior Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills to negate any of Michael Chandler's submission and ground-and-pound attempts, should the fight go to the ground.
But Michael Chandler doesn't need to finish Charles Oliveira to take the win home. All he has to do is score a couple of takedowns and secure dominant positions for prolonged periods of the fight.
#2 Michael Chandler wants the money fight
Winning the lightweight title would not only propel Michael Chandler to the top of the division rankings, but capturing the belt would also open the opportunity for some big money fights.
A win over Charles Oliveira would set Michael Chandler up for the biggest payday of his career for his first title defence. Chandler predicts his potential next opponent to be Conor McGregor.
“If I put my money on it, I think it is going to be Conor,” the former Bellator MMA Lightweight champion recently told ESPN. “I think he makes some adjustments, very small, minor adjustments, and he gets that win in the trilogy.”
But of course, none of that would pan out if Michael Chandler can't get past Charles Oliveira. For Chandler, glory needs to come first before setting his sights on the gold.
#1 It's now or never for Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler is 34 years old and will turn 35 before his title fight against Oliveira. Would this be his only shot at the title? It isn't easy to predict.
Usually, a fighter's first crack at the UFC gold isn't necessarily his final opportunity. In the talent-rich lightweight division, however, the queue for title contention is a very long one.
It has already been announced that the winner of the Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier trilogy would be rewarded a championship opportunity. Moreover, the likes of Justin Gaethje, Rafael dos Anjos, Dan Hooker and Kevin Lee are just a couple of wins away to justify their status as title contenders.
No doubt, Michael Chandler could bounce back if he fails to capture the UFC lightweight title in his first attempt. But with the list of contenders hovering around the championship landscape, it difficult to foresee when Chandler's next opportunity would arrive if he loses against Charles Oliviera at UFC 262.