For the first time since 2018, we will have a new UFC Lightweight Champion. Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially retired paving the way for either Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (30-8-0 1 NC) or Michael Chandler (22-5-0) to become the division’s new king.
The UFC betting odds have Oliveira as a slight favorite here at -135 with the comeback on Chandler at +105. These men have a combined 44 finishes with Oliveira having the UFC record for most finishes with 16. Either way, expect this fight to get finished.
- Date: Saturday, May 16, 10 p.m. ET
- Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, TX, United States
- Watch on: Pay-Per-View
Charles Oliveira vs Michael Chandler
Weight Class: Lightweight (155)
Rounds: Five (Championship Main Event)
Odds: Michael Chandler +105, Charles Oliveira -135
When the betting lines opened, Charles Oliveira was a bigger favorite around -170. The public has since bet him up closer to where Chandler is and it’s understandable as either fighter can finish the other quickly, hence the 2½ totals on the betting lines.
Both Oliveira and Chandler started out as grapplers but have evolved to become all-around MMA fighters. Their career paths to get to this title shot are different though both have been around for over ten years.
Oliveira has been in the UFC since 2010 while Chandler rose to prominence under Bellator around the same year. It’s a long road for both men and a UFC championship is a nice punctuation to their legendary careers.
Chandler: One-Hitter Quitter
Few lightweights can boast they have one-punch knockout power. Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, and Michael Chandler. That’s practically the list among the elites of the division. Ten of Chandler’s 22 victories came via a form of knockout most notably via his overhand right, which he used to put down the usually durable Dan Hooker.
Chandler is a former NCAA Division I wrestler, which gives him the confidence to fight aggressively. He scores knockouts not so much because of power, but because of his speed and precision. If he’s not throwing haymakers, he’s softening his opponent with jabs.
On the ground, Chandler is arguably even more dominant. Unlike many wrestlers, he goes for finishes usually in the form of chokes. If he has a weakness, it’s his proneness to getting hit. Three of his five losses are TKO’s (though one was an injury).
Oliveira: Fight Ender
Oliveira may be the longtime UFC fan’s personal choice here. He originally began as a “submission or bust” fighter. Of his 27 UFC fights, only three went to a decision and it’s because Tony Ferguson and Jeremy Stephens had no qualms about losing their arms.
Charles Oliveira winning the LW title would be a wonderful story. MMA needs that right now.
— Ben Kohn (@agentbenten) May 10, 2021
The Brazilian may be the best submission artist in the UFC. He’s submitted fighters via a variety of ways from guillotines to calf slicers. What makes him even more dangerous now is how he’s grown to be more durable and well-verse on his feet.
Oliveira has earned a few TKO victories in his last few fights. Standing at 5’10” with a 74” reach, he can use his height and reach advantage to keep opponents from a distance or to close the distance fast. There are few fighters who are scarier opponents than Do Bronx.
Round Totals Pick: Done in One
There is a high likelihood that this fight gets finished before the second round, especially if both fighters bring their usual aggression to the cage. Chandler should be the one quickly pressing the action and headhunting Oliveira. But should he make a mistake, Oliveira could snatch one of his limbs and end the fight quickly.
Oliveira also has sneaky power and can stun Chandler or even knock him out if he gets too aggressive. On the other end, Chandler could also put Oliveira out if he catches him like he’s done to Hooker or former UFC champion Benson Henderson. Like the Reyes-Prochazka fight, don’t blink. And the market apparently agrees with this, as the line on the under plunged from its open of -120.
Pick: Under 2½ (-150)
This is a difficult fight to call as the back-and-forth on the betting lines has shown. There are many paths to victory for both fighters here, but Chandler is the likelier winner for a few reasons.
The first would be the disparity in speed on the feet. Oliveira is tough and powerful, but Chandler will have a noticeable speed advantage here. He can beat Oliveira to the punch and surprise him with how fast he can change levels.
Secondly, Chandler can use Oliveira’s height against him. Oliveira’s chin is in a perfect spot to use overhand, similar to Hooker. If Oliveira guards his chin, Chandler can work on his body.
Oliveira’s best avenue here is to hurt Chandler on their feet and to submit him when Chandler gets desperate and shoots for takedowns. Over the course of the fight, Oliveira will get stronger. But I don’t think the fight will go longer. Bet Chandler to finish Oliveira quickly. However, live bet Oliveira when the fight goes past two rounds.