Preview – Two Title Fights and a Lightweight War Headline UFC 274

The UFC will be coming to the Footprint Center in Phoenix this weekend with an unbelievably stacked card. Some of the best fighters in the world will step into the octagon with two different title fights headlining an exciting night of fights.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as two red-hot competitors will meet in a very interesting stylistic matchup. Plus, the women’s strawweight championship will be defended in an exciting co-main event and two other lightweight contenders will meet in a potential title eliminator.

Lightweight bout: Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson

This is a very interesting fight to have on this card. Chandler has dropped both of his last two fights. If you want to know who defeated him, just look at the main event. Both fights were absolute wars and Chandler not only proved to be one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC but also that he belongs in there with the best of the best. At 22-7 in his career, with 10 knockouts and seven submissions, he can clearly put anyone away and he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch while he does it.

Ferguson has been on a skid as well. I’ll give yo one guess who two of he recent losses came to. That’s right, he also dropped recent bouts against Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. However, before his current three-fight losing streak, Ferguson had won 12 in a row and was one of the top contenders in the division. Still ranked number seven, a win over Chandler could vault him right back into title contention. Both of these guys love to stand and throw hands so expect this to be one of the most exciting fights we’ve seen since, well, their last fights.

My pick: Chandler via decision

Women’s Strawweight championship bout: Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza

Last time out, Namajunas proved that her championship victory was no fluke by defeating Weili Zhang for the second time in a row. Now sporting an 11-4 record and the confidence of a longtime champion, she seems to be at the top of her game and one of the best fighters in the sport. Interestingly, Rose has never won more than three fights in a row in her entire career, so not only could she defend her title with a win here, she could also reach her longest winning streak ever.

Speaking of winning streaks, Esparza has won her last five fights. Most recently, she defeated Xiaonan Yan by knockout a year ago. With an 18-6 record, four knockouts and four submissions, she can grind out wins in any sort of fight and she is a very tough out for any opponent. Gameplans will be interesting here as Namajunas seems to have a slight advantage wherever the fight goes, but Esparza can more than hold her own.

My pick: Namajunas via decision

Lightweight championship bout: Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje

For a very long time, the lightweight division has been probably the most stacked of any the UFC has to offer. Great champions like BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov have worn the crown in this division and now another champion is proving that his name belongs in that same conversation.

Oliveira has won his last 10 fights against some of the very best fighters in the world, including the aforementioned Ferguson and Chandler. In his career, he sports an incredibly impressive 32-8 record with an astounding 20 submission victories. In fact, in this 10-fight winning streak, six of his wins have come by submission with another three coming by knockout. It’s hard to say that there is another fighter as hot as Oliveria right now and he has really cemented himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

While we’re on the topic of guys who can finish fights, Gaethje boasts a 23-3 record with an incredible 19 victories by way of knockout. This guy is a fight fan’s dream as he is always willing to stand in the pocket and just bang until one guy hits the mat. And more often than not, it’s not Gaethje who does so. His most recent fight, against Chandler, is simply one of the most exciting fights to ever take place in the octagon and that is due in large part to the exciting style that Gaethje brings to his fights. He’s going to have remain composed and be more calculated than usual in this one though as Oliveira is known to pounce on even the slightest mistake. If Gaethje can keep this fight on the feet, this is going ot be an absolute war. The key for him though will be to keep Oliveira from grabbing hold of him and working his submission game.

My pick: Oliveira via 5th round submission

UFC 274 will be held Saturday night, May 7 at 10 PM ET. Fight fans can order the pay per view through ESPN+ and receive a special offer: $89.98 for UFC 274 and an ESPN+ annual plan. ESPN+ subscribers can order the pay per view for $69.99.