For UFC fans, the month of May is off to a great start after UFC Vegas 25 delivered an action-packed card that saw the arrival of two surging young stars.
Giga Chikadze and Jiří Procházka took a huge step forward in their respective divisions as both fighters earned spectacular stoppage wins over two former top contenders.
But the recently-concluded UFC Vegas 25 is just the appetizer. The UFC has lined up an eventful schedule for May 2021, including a championship fight and several marquee matchups.
Listed below are five UFC fights to look forward to in May 2021:
#5 UFC Vegas 26: Michelle Waterson vs. Marina Rodriguez
A bantamweight showdown between Cory Sandhagen and T.J. Dillashaw was originally scheduled to headline UFC Vegas 26 on May 8. Unfortunately, Dillashaw sustained a nasty gash on his right eyebrow during training camp that forced him to pull out of the main event bout.
ESPN's Ariel Helwani initially reported that a matchup between strawweight contenders Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez would headline UFC Vegas 26 in place of Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw. Waterson recently confirmed the development and told BJPenn.com that the fight is a done deal.
Waterson and Rodriguez both compete in the 115-pound weight class. However, 'The Karate Hottie' revealed that her scheduled bout will take place at flyweight. Both parties agreed to fight at 125 pounds to avoid cutting weight on short notice.
The result of Waterson vs. Rodriguez will determine future matchups in the UFC strawweight division. If Zhang Weili does not get an immediate rematch with Rose Namajunas, facing the winner of UFC Vegas 26's main event would be a good alternative for the former UFC strawweight champ.
#4 UFC Vegas 27: Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt
Rob Font is enjoying a hot streak after earning three straight wins over Sergio Pettis, Ricky Simon, and Marlon Moraes. He'll hope to solidify his status as a title contender by making it four in a row against ex-UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt in the main event of UFC Vegas 27 in May 22.
Garbrandt, on the flip side, has just recently recovered from a three-fight skid. He turned the tide at UFC 250 by scoring a picture-perfect KO against Raphael Assuncao.
Before that, Garbrandt was seemingly on his way to an exciting championship run. However, he dropped the UFC bantamweight crown to Dillashaw and then failed to recapture it in a rematch before suffering a third stoppage loss against Pedro Munhoz.
The most recent title match for the UFC bantamweight championship ended in a controversial disqualification. Because of that, a rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan should be the fight to make at the top of the division.
But Sterling recently underwent neck surgery that will keep him out of action for several months. If the controversial champ can't recover quick enough for a title defense, an interim title fight between Yan and the winner of Font vs. Garbrandt would be an acceptable consolation prize.
#3 UFC 262: Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
After stringing together 12 wins in a row, Tony Ferguson has floundered in his last two outings in the octagon. 'El Cucuy' will look to get back to his winning ways by stopping surging star Beneil Dariush in his tracks.
On the other hand, Dariush will try to prove that he belongs in the upper echelons of the lightweight division by defeating a former top contender in Ferguson. Dariush is currently riding a six-fight winning streak with notable wins against Drakkar Klose and Diego Ferreira.
Both Ferguson (#5) and Dariush (#9) hold spots in the top ten of the UFC's lightweight rankings. Whoever comes out victorious at UFC 262 will inch his way closer into the title picture of the talent-rich 155-pound division.
#2 UFC 262: Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz
UFC superstar Nate Diaz will make his long-awaited UFC comeback against third-ranked welterweight Leon Edwards in the co-main event of UFC 262 on May 15. The pair will make UFC history as they compete in the first non-title fight scheduled for five rounds outside of the main event.
This will be Nate Diaz's first fight since losing to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244, in a showdown for the 'BMF' title. The bout ended when Diaz suffered a massive cut to his forehead, forcing the cage-side doctor to call for a stoppage.
Meanwhile, Leon Edwards was on an eight-fight winning streak before his most recent bout against Belal Muhammad at UFC Fight Night 187. The bout ended in a no-contest after Edwards hit Muhammad with an inadvertent eye poke.
With both combatants hungry for redemption, Edwards vs. Diaz could potentially steal the show at UFC 262. A win for Diaz would raise his stock as one of the biggest stars in the octagon, while a victory for Edwards could propel him into title contention.
#1 UFC 262: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler will clash in the main event of UFC 262 for the vacant lightweight title. This comes after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired and subsequently relinquished the lightweight crown.
'Do Bronx' is on an eight-fight winning streak with remarkable wins against Ferguson and Kevin Lee. Oliveira, who owns the most submission wins in UFC history, can accomplish another milestone by capturing the title in arguably the most stacked division of the UFC.
On the other hand, Chandler will look to skyrocket to the top of the lightweight division after just two fights in the octagon. He made the most out of his UFC debut by knocking out Dan Hooker at UFC 257 to earn a title opportunity.