The toughest division in combat sports headlines UFC 274 when the man that is writing history as we speak, Brazil’s Charles Oliveira puts his lightweight championship belt on the line against Phoenix Arizona’s number one fighter, “The Highlight”, Justin Gaethje, in The Valley of the Sun’s Footprint Center.
The action is all preceded by a rematch for the women’s Strawweight belt, followed by a fan favourite matchup, and so much more.
Get an in-depth look at three of the biggest fights on the UFC 274 pay-per-view card, including all the odds and picks for every fight scheduled to take place this Sunday morning the 8th of April.
Sunday 8 April
Betting supplied by Hollywoodbets
Main Event – Charles Oliveira 54/100 vs Justin Gaethje 13/10 (Lightweight)
In the main event, the UFC lightweight championship is on the line when Charles Oliveira heads to Justin Gaethje’s hometown of Phoenix Arizona to silence the crowd.
The most finishes, submissions, and performance bonuses across all weight divisions in UFC history is all held by one man, Charles Oliveira (32-8). “Do Bronx” is looking to extend his win streak to 11 and earn his second title defence. After winning the vacant lightweight title versus Michael Chandler, Charles had to overcome the fight fan favourite, the so-called uncrowned lightweight king and the odds to dispatch of Dustin Poirier.
Oliveira has been in the UFC since 2010 and overcome challenge after challenge, criticism after criticism and even more recently in his last two wins. After being knocked down by both Chandler and Poirier, he was able to rise and win finish both fights in spectacular fashion.
The brute force that Gaethje (23-3) brings to the octagon can easily steamroll this fight. 23 wins with 20 finishes shows the warlike mindset that Phoenix Arizona’s very own relishes in with every fight he engages.
After being undefeated in 18 professional fights, “The Highlight” made his UFC debut against Eddie Alvarez, losing via knockout and then again versus Poirier. The character to pick yourself back up and win four straight against James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and then Tony Ferguson for the interim belt shows the championship mindset he possesses.
He looked out of his league against former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov but showed us again what he’s truly made of in an all-brawl against Michael Chandler, winning via unanimous decision for only the third time in his career.
Verdict: Charles Oliveira (54/100)
We don’t see many losses on Justin Gaethje’s record, but one of them was a submission, and if anyone is going to catch you with one, it’s Charles Oliveira. I can see Justin putting the pressure early with Charles in his defensive Muay Thai stance.
When Gaethje does catch Charles with a clean shot, chasing him to the ground will be the biggest mistake. On the feet, however, Charles’ striking is clean and precise, always having everything where it should be, and in Justin’s brawl like fighting style we could possibly see the same two fights we saw Charles in before, so – And Still!
Co-main – Rose Namajunas 44/100 vs Carla Esparza 16/10 (Womens Strawweight)
A co-main event rematch seven and a half years in the making for the 115lb UFC title, Carla Esparza looks to knock the queen off her pedestal, but that queen, Rose Namajunas has blossomed entirely since then.
The reigning two-time queen of the strawweight division Rose Namajunas is in search of redemption. A championship mentality with the drive to still prove yourself, in my opinion is always the most dangerous and that is what “Thug Rose” currently possesses heading into this matchup.
Rose has been in this position before, overcoming an opponent who defeated her in the past in Jessica Andrade. That is what set her on the path to claiming the title again with a first-round KO of Zhang Weili followed by a split decision rematch.
The first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza has her chance to re-establish dominance. Esparza is riding a five-fight win streak and is undeniably the most deserving of the title shot.
It was a topsy turvy run of results after the two first met for Carla, but recent form suggest she is in her prime at the ripe age of 34. “The Cookie Monster” has eaten her way through Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez, and most recently in confident fashion holding Xiaonan Yan in a crucifix position to earn her shot a t the title again.
Verdict: Rose Namjunas (44/100)
This could easily become a trilogy, because Rose lost the first fight, and despite what the odds say, this is a closer fight than anticipated in my opinion.
Namajunas is, however, a lot more calculated than her younger days, and Carla getting this fight to the ground might leave her gassed early than prepared for. The footwork is exquisite, and the striking has been elevated for Thug Rose – And Still!
Michael Chandler 24/100 vs Tony Ferguson 26/10 (Lightweight)
The term “People’s Main Event” is thrown around a little too often, so I am going to say this is the fan favourite fight of UFC 274’s stacked Pay-Per-View event. Michael Chandler came in and was shot out of a cannon by the UFC, while Tony Ferguson has arduously grafted out a name for himself in the toughest division.
Two fighters with loads of talent and a more than a hint of remarkableness have had a rather rough time recently. This is the occasion to throw their names back among the title challengers.
Michael Chandler (27-7) came into the UFC with a lot of favour from the promotion. Fighters turned him down voicing their opinions against the favour he was handed, but one man stepped up to the challenge.
Dan Hooker felt he will take one for the division with full confidence that he had the tools to dismiss Chandler. “Iron” Michael proved too much to handle, putting Dan’s lights out in the very first round earning himself performance of the night on his UFC debut. He then astonishingly faced Charles Oliveira for the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship, starting off well knocking down Oliveira in the first round, but round two barely began before Chandler was KO’d within 19 seconds. In November of last year, Justin Gaethje and Chandler put on a fight for the ages with back-and-forth night ending strikes, but again, Chandler came up short losing via unanimous decision.
It’s two straight losses for the 36-year-old, and time is of the essence if he is to make his dream of UFC gold a reality.
UFC Lightweight gold became a reality for Tony Ferguson (25-6) when he submitted Kevin Lee in 2017 for the interim belt – that after racking up a nine-fight win streak. The fan dubbed “Boogey Man” forced a corner stoppage out of former champion Anthony Pettis, and then a doctor stoppage of Donald Cerrone earning him the tied record of most consecutive wins in UFC lightweight history (12). Just as everything rose to the top, everything came crumbling down.
He was scheduled to face then former champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the Covid-19 pandemic got in the way, forcing an interim belt between him and Justin Gaethje which he lost convincingly. What followed was two disappointing performances against Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush losing both via unanimous decision.
The Ultimate Fighter 13 winner, six-time fight of the night, one time knockout of the night, one-time submission of the night-, and three-time performance of the night winner, must now pick himself up and dust himself off in a must-win matchup.
Verdict: Tony Ferguson (29/10)
Tony Ferguson is unorthodox and can take hit after hit, and fight from any position. The road to victory hear has been proven by two of the last three losses Tony has faced – put him on his back and keep him there. Michael Chandler is not that guy, he is explosive and enjoys creating highlight moments, much like Justin Gaethje (Whom Tony almost knocked out), but with all due respect to his work ethic and quality he has displayed, he is a watered-down version that can possibly see Tony finishing the fight. Both fighters have it all to go for, in just three rounds. Intense all-out war is on the cards for the potential fight of the night, and Tony comes out on top in my picks.
Full card predictions
Main Card: 04:00 CAT, Sunday 8 May
- Charles Oliveira (54/100) vs Justin Gaethje (13/10): Oliveira
- Rose Namajunas (44/100) vs Carla Esparza (16/10): Namajunas
- Michael Chandler (24/100) vs Tony Ferguson (26/10): Ferguson
- Mauricio Rua (37/20) vs Ovince Saint Preux (38/100): Saint Preux
- Donald Cerrone (51/100) vs Joe Lauzon (14/100): Cerrone
Prelims: 02:00 CAT
- Randy Brown (94/100) vs Kalinn Williams (77/100): Fighter
- Francisco Trinaldo (8/10) vs Danny Roberts (9/10): Fighter
- Macy Chiasson (17/100) vs Norma Dumont (4/10): Fighter
- Brandon Royval (37/100) vs Matt Schnell (37/20): Royval
Early Prelims: 23:30 CAT, Saturday 7 May
- Blagoy Ivanov (59/100) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (12/10): Ivanov
- Andre Fialho (2/9) vs Cameron VanCamp (28/10): Fialho
- Tracy Cortez (6/10) vs Melissa Gatto (12/10): Gatto
- Kleydson Rodrigues (27/100) vs CJ Vergara (49/20): Santos
- Ariane Carnelossi (14/10) vs Lupita Godinez (5/10): Fighter
Journey Newson (12/10) vs Fernie Garcia (6/10): Fighter