We’re fast approaching UFC 262, which kicks off at 22:00 in the Toyota Center, Houston, on 14 May, and headlines with Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira going up against “Iron” Michael Chandler for the lightweight title, which was vacated by “The Eagle” Khabib Nurmagomedov when he retired following his win against Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje. Whereas Oliveira has been steadily working his way up through the ranks of the UFC, Chandler has served time in Bellator before forging his reputation in the world’s main cage fighting organization. 

How are the odds looking on the two fighters looking? If you’re participating and following UFC 262 bets, like the one at Draft Kings, Oliveira goes into the fight as the underdog with odds of -134, whereas Chandler enters it at +110. You might also be curious to follow the event because of the return of Stockton, California, fighter Nate Diaz to the UFC. He goes into his matchup with Leon Edwards as the heavy favorite, enjoying odds of +333. 

It’s all about the submissions

Do Bronx holds a record of 28 fights, lost 8, and drew zero. 

Eight of his wins have come by knockout (KO) or technical knockout (TKO) and 19 of them have come from submissions. That’s not surprising. Do Bronx is a submissions specialist and holds the record for wins by submission in the UFC. Chandler, as well as anyone else who faces Oliveira, will have to be on the very top of their ground game if they don’t want to find themselves on the end of a choke or other hold.

Oliveira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ)

Since Oliveira hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, it would be more surprising if BJJ wasn’t part of Oliveira’s arsenal. Do Bronx has incorporated these grappling skills heavily into his mixed martial arts (MMA), as opponents have witnessed to devastating effect. 

Unfortunately for Chandler, Oliveira recently acquired a third-degree black belt in the effective Brazilian fighting form. “Iron” will have to be especially on his guard on the ground now.

Why is BJJ so effective?

It’s hard to get by in MMA without knowing BJJ. A lot of the time, the fight will go to ground, in which case BJJ will give a fighter versed in the discipline the upper hand. The fighting form teaches them to take the fight to the ground, control the opponent and get into a more dominant position, keeping their opponent on the ground if they wish the fight to stay there. 

If they’re the one on the ground taking all the punishment, BJJ will help them to defend themselves and to turn the tables on their aggressor. It’s a second line of defense. A knowledge of BJJ can help a fighter in a defensive position to force the other fighter into submission, even though the latter may be the one winning the fight. 

Ultimately, BJJ trains fighters in situations that simulate true-life combat. BJJ has become so effective that students of it have little or no fear of taking on fighters of any other kind, including strike-oriented fighters such as karate experts or Muay Thai specialists.

Oliveira on a winning streak

Despite the bookmakers giving heavy odds against him, Oliveira will still be going full of confidence into his battle with Chandler. The Brazilian hasn’t lost a fight since November 2016, in which he submitted to a choke by Ricard Lamas in the second round. 

Since that night, he’s won his last eight cage battles, his most recent being over the uber-tough veteran Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the division, at UFC 256. The submission specialist took the fight at short notice and put on an impressively dominant performance, almost submitting El Cucuy in the first round. Although the fight went the distance, the judges were unanimous in their verdict, allocating the win clearly to Oliveira.

What makes Oliveira so dangerous?

Oliveira is so incredibly effective on the ground that the slightest lapse in concentration from his opponents can see them fighting of a submission. Sixty-three per cent of his victories have come from submissions. 

Oliveira also gets the job done relatively fast. On average, his fights have lasted just short of seven minutes, which means he may come on strong early. Opponents could have to ride a wave of pressure, especially in the second round.

His performance against Ferguson will give Chandler some food for thought. During the fight, he gave a solid account of himself in the standing battles, proving he can do more than just dish out submissions. If the lightweight championship contest goes to the ground, he believes momentum will shift in his favor, but he’s also convinced he can catch Chandler with counterpunches and knock him out if it doesn’t’. 

Naturally, Chandler has faith in his own skills, too. Not only that, however, but reports suggest that Chandler may be under-rating Oliveira. Chandler is allegedly claiming the New Zealander Dan Hooker was a tougher opponent. If word has gotten back to Oliveira, the Brazilian will be looking to make Chandler eat his words MMA style.

Chandler versus Oliveira is going to be an interesting prospect, one which could hinge on whether the battle goes to ground or not. With an undisputed lightweight title up for grabs, there will be fireworks in the cage come 14 May. That’s for certain.  

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