Off the back of a stunning landing pad in the Octagon in January this year, former three-time Bellator pacesetter, Michael Chandler has predicted he stops the #3 ranked Charles Oliveira inside the opening round this weekend at UFC 262 — crowning him as the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.
The Sanford MMA staple finally made his first appearance under the UFC’s banner in January, following countless years of speculation as to whether or not he would eventually make the transition to the promotion. And prior to fight night, I doubt Henri Hooft and co would have put together a more picture-perfect debut for the veteran.
Making massive waves inside the opening round, Chandler put away the notoriously durable, Dan Hooker with a huge left hand off a feint, before forcing the issue with a series of close ground strikes.
Off the back of the win, Chandler called out the likes of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor — whom he shared the Abu Dhabi, UAE card with, as well as then-undisputed lightweight best, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Neither of those three matchups would come to fruition for Chandler, however, at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas this weekend — he’s got the opportunity to mint himself as the new lightweight pacesetter, tackling the surging, most prolific submission artist in promotional history in the form of the evolving, Oliveira.
Chandler debuted in the official UFC lightweight stack at #4 with his win over Auckland striker, Hooker — one place off of Oliveira who scored a dominant unanimous judging win over former interim lightweight titleholder, Tony Ferguson to insert himself into the title picture.
Whilst according to UFC president, Dana White — the aforenoted, Poirier rejected a vacant title clash, in favour of a trilogy rubber match against McGregor which has since been booked for UFC 264 on July 10th. — Chandler subsequently drafted into the title picture.
His January stoppage of Hooker was devastating, simply put, in its nature, and come Saturday night, the 35-year-old envisions a similar scenario playing out to halt the run of Oliveira and score the 155lbs crown.
“I walk out into a packed arena in Houston, Texas, (with) 19,000 red, white, and blue-blooded Americans chanting my name, rooting for me,” Chandler said during a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “I go out there and in Charles Oliveira’s face immediately and he will realize and feel from the first exchange, from the pressure I put on him, he will immediately start to second guess himself. He will immediately overreact. He will immediately start to worry about his legs. I’ll go to his head. I’m going to go to his legs. I’m going to go to his body. I’m going to mix it up. A punch is going to land, he’s going to get his clock cleaned.“
“He’s going to wake up to the bright lights of me standing on top of the cage about to get my hand raised and UFC gold around my waist,” Chandler continued. “That’s how it’s going to go. I predict it’s going to be in the first round. Then I predict a phenomenal end to 2021 and then we’re going to carry this baby on for a couple of years.“
If Chandler manages to follow through with his prediction, he’ll become the first man to stop Oliveira since Paul Felder back in December of 2017. In eight fights since, Oliveira has won each of them, adding the above-mentioned Ferguson to prior successes against the likes of Kevin Lee, Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Nik Lentz, and Jared Gordon to name a few.