The UFC heads to Arizona this weekend for UFC 274 where Justin Gaethje fights in front of his home fans to attempt to win the Lightweight belt off current champ Charles Oliveira in the main event.
The second title fight will come in the form of a rematch between current Women’s Strawweight champ Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza.
Also on the card is former Interim Lightweight champ Tony Ferguson and former Bellator champ Michal Chandler.
Our full UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje Tips & Preview can be read below.
Charles Oliveira is riding a 10 fight win streak into his second title defence having beaten Michael Chandler by TKO and Dustin Poirier by rear naked choke in his last two.
He holds the most submission wins in UFC history with 20 of his 32 career wins coming by way of this method.
29 of his 32 overall wins have been finishes and he is one of the most well rounded fighters in the promotion’s history.
Justin Gaethje and his coach Trevor Wittman have been patient in waiting for this second title shot, the first was unsuccessful back in October 2020 when he lost via submission to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Gaethje must have been quietly peeved that Michael Chandler got a title shot ahead of him but when the two met in the octagon in November last year, they put on a show!
He put to bed any questions of who would be next to face Oliveira for the Lightweight title with a unanimous decision win in New York and here we are.
Oliveira has time and time again been underestimated both by his opponents and the punters but there is no denying his ability as well as heart when looking at his last few fights.
It is truly amazing that just one of his last 17 fights in the octagon have needed the judges decision and that was against Tony Ferguson in December 2020 when he had a couple of chances to finish the fight including a really tight arm bar that almost snapped the arm of his opponent.
Both Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier are power punches and landed some solid punches on the chin of Oliveira but testament to his will, he recovered and fought back to finish both opponents.
Gaethje is another level of power punching and he also changes things up with his vicious leg kicks which I see playing a big part in this fight.
Oliveira will be looking to level change and he has an incredible ability to move through the BJJ stages to get himself into a position for a submission.
While I do think a Oliveira submission or Gaethje KO/TKO is the most likely scenario in this fight, there is value for the fight to go the distance.
Gaethje has the advantage on the feet and if the fight does need the judges, he can score enough to get the nod at a big price.
UFC Women’s Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is 4-0 in rematches.
She was beaten by Tecia Torres in Invincta and then beat her in the UFC, she also beat the greatest Strawweight of all time twice in Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Jessica Andrade dumped her on her head when she lost her title in May 2019. She avenged that loss just over a year later.
And she has beaten Zhang Weili in her last two fights.
She fought Carla Esparza in The Ultimate Fighter finale back in December 2014 for the inaugural Women’s strawweight title fight and loss via rear naked choke.
Esparza lost that title in her very next fight to Jedrzejczyk and never got a chance to win it back.
Esparza comes into this fight on the back of five wins in a row and deserves her shot.
But she is out of her depth against a superior mixed martial artist in my opinion.
It’s incredibly hard to say this because he is one of my favourite fighters of all time but Tony Ferguson might be past it.
No doubt he still has incredible skills especially when it comes to his grappling and wrestling but the signs do not looks good.
He has now lost his last three in a row in brutal fashion to Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveria and Beneil Dariush.
We can’t deny the fact that he keeps taking tough fights!
That fight that never eventuated against Khabib Nurmagomedov may have actually been a blessing in disguise if we are being honest with ourselves.
There was plenty of intrigue when former Bellator Lightweight champion Michael Chandler came into the top MMA promotion with even Ferguson suggesting that he has “Dana White privilege’ at one stage.
But Chandler has more than held his own against some of the best lightweight’s in the UFC and he was fairly close to winning the title when he knocked down Oliveira in their fight.
I think we will see a more relaxed and calculated Chandler in this fight and one that relies on his wrestling far more than he did against Justin Gaethje.
He needs a win to put himself back in the title picture and Ferguson is a tough man to finish.