Photo via Benjamin Cooke (Throwdown Photography)
When Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) announced his retirement from MMA, following the tragic death of his father, there was only one thing that everybody wanted to know: “who’s going to be the next champion?” Dana White refused to believe that The Eagle was really done fighting and unsuccessfully spent months trying to convince him to return before finally announcing the title would be vacated, officially ending Khabib’s reign after 1,077 days. Immediately after came the announcement that Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (30-8(1)) would be fighting “Iron” Mike Chandler (22-5) on May 15, 2021, to crown a new Lightweight Champion.
Charles Oliveira, who has been in the UFC since 2010, has won nine of his last ten fights with eight of those victories coming by way of stoppage. In his twenty-seven fight UFC career, he has collected fifteen post-fight bonuses and currently holds the record for the most submission stoppages in the UFC (14). He’s seemingly flown under the radar while collecting checks and in the views of his fans, this title shot for Oliveira is well-deserved and long overdue. As a fighter who has won numerous awards and bonuses, winning a championship will finally allow Do Bronx to get the credit he rightfully deserves.
On the other hand, Mike Chandler has just one post-fight bonus that he collected in his lone UFC fight. Before making his UFC debut in January 2021, Chandler fought for Bellator for ten years. In that time, he was a three-time Lightweight champion and currently holds the record for most stoppage wins in Bellator history (13). Even though he’s one of the top Lightweights in MMA, his career was built outside of the UFC so many people don’t really know who he is or even respect his track record and experience. In the eyes of many, this is Chandler’s moment to cement his legacy and silence the doubters.
When you take guys that are capable of finishing fights at any given moment and you lock them in a cage together, you can anticipate fireworks. Be sure to tune in Saturday night to witness the crowning of a new Lightweight King.