Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
Tonight’s main event brought an electrifying air to Houston’s fully-packed Toyota Center. Brazil’s Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira overcame a troublesome start to deliver a dynamic finish.
Oliveira’s victory came by way of a tight left hook and composed follow-up shots that left Chandler dazed on the canvas. Despite not coming out on top, “Iron” Michael Chandler’s future remains bright with potential matchups like Justin Gaethje offering a path towards redemption. Chandler had a strong Round 1, powering out of the Brazilian’s control and knocking down Oliveira with strong shots. His performance reveals that impressive physical attributes, even when paired with heart, are not enough when matched with technique.
Oliveira vs Chandler: Technique vs Power
Throughout the fight, Oliveira showcased textbook technique from his Muay Thai to his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The tight left hook that dropped Chandler was the perfect example of the efficacy of sound fundamentals. Olveira threw the shot straight from his guard with no telegraph or windup. Additionally, he snuck in the left hand right after Chandler threw a right. Because he had yet to bring the hand back into its proper position, Chandler’s chin was completely exposed. Conversely, Oliveira maintained a tight high guard and struck from a perfectly balanced, tall stance. Both Jon Anik and Joe Rogan emphasized Oliveira’s technical prowess and defensive responsibility. Despite these compliments, Oliveira’s performance was not without hiccups.
The image of Charles gasping on the canvas at the end of Round 1 did not inspire confidence in a Round 2 finish. Nonetheless, Oliveira displayed championship grit and found an opportunity to finish the fight less than a minute into the round. The feat is a testament to Oliveira’s ability to remain calm in pivotal moments.
Chandler’s innate athleticism was the main highlight of his performance. After giving up his back, he was able to explode out of Oliveira’s control right at his most vulnerable moment. Few fighters can power out of a skilled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner’s grasp like Chandler did. Chandler’s explosiveness was also evident in his striking power. Unfortunately for him, relying on heavy hands only works consistently when paired with durability.
Tonight’s electrifying championship bout reminded fight fans of why the lightweight division is among the sport’s best. Oliveira will not be able to rest on his laurels for long, with Poirier-McGregor III looming on the horizon. But for now, Brazil has a new man to celebrate and the lightweight division has a new king.