UFC 262 will feature a rare situation in which one fighter has only one promotional appearance, offering very little statistical insight. Former Bellator champ Michael Chandler ran through Dan Hooker in his UFC debut, requiring one big punch to drop Hooker for a first-round finish. Chandler is now competing for the lightweight title against an opponent who could go on to log more octagon time than anyone else if he continues at his current rate. That’s because Charles Oliveria joined the UFC in 2010, competing 27 times and earning 16 bonuses since. And he’s only 31.
The difference in sample size is extreme, and there’s no way to make a data-driven prediction of the main event given the brevity of Chandler’s UFC tenure. At a minimum, it will be a better test of Chandler’s standing in the division than his layup debut. However, Oliveira’s sizable winning streak is arguably more impressive than the names on it.
With a solid wrestling base, Chandler could thwart Oliveira’s submission game. And Chandler’s style mash-up with powerful striking could be the ideal combination to add another title to his resume. But we’ll look elsewhere on the main card for better value.
Featherweights: No. 9 Shane Burgos -125 vs. No. 13 Edson Barboza + 105
Two ranked featherweights will meet before the final two fights of the evening at lightweight. The odds for Burgos and Barboza are very tight, flirting with pick-’em territory. That’s because both fighters excel at stand-up, with similarly rangy builds but differing strengths.
Combining for 0.1 takedown attempts per minute standing, it’s safe to say these two should plan for a distance striking duel. And when they face off, it will boil down to the precise headhunting of Burgos against the violent kicking game of Barboza.
Don’t expect the market to steam either fighter in a matchup this tricky. But several factors work against Barboza in the long run. While he competed at an elite level for years against larger opponents at lightweight, dropping a weight class at 35 means he has given up some muscle or will be pushing his body to more extremes. And though Barboza was often the rangier fighter, even up one division, Burgos will match his long range, with the added ability to land powerful counters on Barboza’s kicking game.
In a three-round fight, we’re banking on the youth and precision of Burgos to get the edge. Moneyline play on Burgos, who would emerge as a future division contender with a win over a well-established talent like Barboza.
Women’s flyweights: No. 12 Antonina Shevchenko -130 vs. No. 11 Andrea Lee + 110
The card features a trio of women’s flyweight fights, and each looks like a close matchup. In one, the 11th-ranked Lee faces the 12th-ranked Shevchenko. Shevchenko opened as a clear favorite, but her price has plummeted to only that of a mild favorite. Despite being the older sister of current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, the lower-ranked Antonina has yet to put together a winning streak in the UFC. But this matchup could finally give her some momentum, as it should allow her to demonstrate her striking in a standing duel.
Both women have striking bases, pitting the kickboxing of Lee against the Muay Thai of Shevchenko. But Shevchenko has shown much better accuracy and more evasive defense, while Lee has succeeded with a fast pace and mixing in lots of kicks. Shevchenko has fallen short primarily when facing superior grapplers, and while Lee’s ground stats are decent, they are in no way dominant. Shevchenko also has a solid submission game should any openings on the ground become available.
It’s a close matchup, and we should expect both to want to test their striking. But with both having spent plenty of years competing in stand-up, don’t expect either to go down easily.
We have a moneyline lean on Shevchenko, now that her price has dropped significantly. But the safer play is the Over 2.5 rounds, or the fight-goes-the-distance prop, which could be used for parlays. A prop on Shevchenko by decision should become available closer to fight time and would offer plus money siding with Shevchenko on a small play.