When a night ends with 20,000 fans at the Toyota Center standing in unison to applaud, something special just happened. There was excitement in the air during UFC 262, some of which was related to the electric atmosphere, and some of which was due to the performance itself. On a main map filled with seasoned fighters with great reputations, every fight was entertaining and the most dramatic moment came in the climax. Let’s go.
Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza
Barboza revealed his game plan early in the first round. He started the fight with impressive calf kicks that echoed throughout the arena. He let Burgos guess and even went upstairs with sudden strikes. The most impressive moment of the round was a spinning kick from Barboza who caught an unsuspecting Burgos in the side of the face.
While the momentum was clearly in his favor, there was cause for concern for Barboza in the second round as a split shin made him bleed profusely. It was the best part of the night for Burgos, who had a good and meaningful exchange. He may even have walked away with that round on some of the judges’ scorecards.
In the third round, Barboza closed the show in a spectacular fashion. A punch landed squarely on Burgos’ chin, who initially absorbed the shot, but eventually tripped back into the cage as a result of the impact. Barboza started to crush and pound his opponent, at which point the referee wisely stopped the fight.
Rayo Vallecano vs. Salamanca Viviane Araujo
Neither fighters were able to build momentum in the first round as they seemed to feel each other. The round ended with a cage-fighting exchange in which neither woman was able to score an out.
Araujo dominated the start of the second round, scoring a nice pin and establishing his position. However, Chookagian managed to get out of the out and finished the round with some nice, striking combinations.
In the third round, Chookagian established herself as the most aggressive fighter. She put pressure on Araujo throughout the round. His streak of a left hook, followed by a right uppercut and a strong knee in front of Araujo’s face clearly tipped the round in his favor. With two rounds fairly even and difficult to decide, Chookagian’s dominance in the third round was likely the deciding factor. She came away with the victory by unanimous decision.
Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin
Bontorin started the first round with calf kicks that established the momentum in his favor. Later in the round, he hit Schnell with an overhand right that knocked him out and knocked him off balance. Other than that, the two spent most of the round trying to get their bearings.
The second round was very close, but Bontorin managed to grab the judges’ attention with a punchy combo that echoed oohs and ahs through the crowd.
With the outcome of the fight at stake, Bontorin sealed the victory with a dominant third round. He started the round with a great combination that left Schnell wincing in pain. Finally, a pullout in which he was able to establish dominance removed any doubt as to which fighter was having the better night. Bontorin came away with the victory by unanimous decision.
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
An early teardown by Dariush and superior grappling skills gave him a decisive advantage in the first round. Ferguson was able to reciprocate in the second round with an impressive withdrawal of his own. However, after finding himself on the wrong side of a header, Dariush managed to dominate the final three minutes of the lap with strikes and kicks.
Ferguson was never able to recover from a heel lock Dariush established in round two and the injury hampered him for the entire third round. With his mobility severely compromised, that was all Ferguson could do to survive the round. Dariush dominated the final round from start to finish and it was a pretty easy decision for the judges. He came away with the victory by unanimous decision. The defeat is the third in a row for Tony Ferguson and it begs the question whether we have seen the end of his reign as one of the division’s elite fighters.
Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
The most anticipated match of the evening certainly did not disappoint. Oliveira started the first round with an impressive withdrawal that left Chandler in serious jeopardy. However, Chandler showed why he is known as one of the strongest fighters in the division when he was able to work his way out of a choke that would have caused most fighters to fend for themselves. He followed up with some impressive, striking combinations to which Oliveira had no answer. The first round clearly went to Chandler.
In the second round, Oliveira refused to pass up the opportunity he worked so hard for. He charged out the door and hit Chandler with a punch he never saw coming. It was the kind of blow that can end a fight and that’s precisely what happened. As Chandler stumbled back into the cage, Oliveira pounced on him and hit him with strikes that forced the referee to stop the fight.
The roar of the crowd reminded everyone who watched at home how sorely sports had been missed in crowded arenas. Oliveira jumped out of the cage and gave the announcers a high five before running over to Dana White to give her a party hug. It was a special moment. This night did not disappoint; every fight on the main map had memorable moments and the audience was engaged from start to finish.
Charles Oliveira officially fought more fights to win his first title than any other fighter in UFC history. Hats off to him. Her persistence in pursuing her dream should serve as an example not to focus on obstacles, but rather to focus on goals. Society has often encouraged people to make excuses and point fingers at others when their lives are not what they want. Charles Oliveira’s long journey to the Championship should remind us all that the responsibility for success or failure lies with the individual. Internal motivation should always take priority over external excuses.