UFC 274 brings the promotion back to the desert in Arizona on Saturday night.
Former Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira (32-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) was stripped of the lightweight belt on Friday after missing weight by half a pound. He is still set to fight challenger Justin Gaethje (23-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC). Gaethje, who made championship weight, is still eligible for the belt if he wins.
If Oliveira wins, the belt remains vacant.
As for the strawweights, Champion Rose Namajunas (11-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) takes on Carla Esparza (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in a rematch of the inaugural strawweight title, eight years in the making.
Before the two title fights, Michael Chandler (22-7 MMA, 1-2 UFC) looks to rebound with a win over Tony Ferguson (25-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) in a battle of MMA lightweight legends. The schedule has UFC betting options up and down the card this weekend.
UFC 274 main event: Oliveira vs Gaethje
Regardless of no belt on the line for Oliveira, he is still looking to continue his 10-fight win streak on Saturday night.
The former champion as of Friday weighed in at 155.5 pounds. For typical fights, that is allowed, but for title fights, fighters need to hit weight exactly.
His impressive run has included finishes over Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Kevin Lee. The only person to survive and make it to a decision with Oliveira in his last 10 fights? Ferguson, who looks for his own rebound against Chandler this weekend.
Oliveira is a jiu-jitsu expert who have proven recently he also has the hands to put his opponents down. Plus, he has more UFC experience than any of the other champions in the promotion. Oliveira made his UFC debut back in 2010 and has fought almost everyone in the featherweight and lightweight divisions including Max Holloway, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Anthony Pettis and many more.
The biggest factor that makes Oliveira stand out? His heart.
Before his current 10-fight win streak, he was 10-8 in the UFC and hanging on to his spot in the promotion by a thread five years ago. Now, he’s the king of a competitive division and has filled the spot left by former champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov retired in 2020 after beating Gaethje by submission.
Now, Gaethje is back again for a second chance at the title after beating Chandler by decision last fall.
The Arizona native is known for his powerful right hand and crippling leg kicks. He also has strong wrestling abilities and isn’t afraid to go to the ground if needed.
His time in the UFC has been successful so far with his only three losses coming from Nurmagomedov, Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. He has finishes over Ferguson, Cerrone, Edson Barboza, James Vick and Michael Johnson.
Dustin Poirier: W (Sub)
|Last 5||Michael Chandler: W (Dec.)|
Michael Chandler: W (TKO)
|Khabib Nurmagomedov: L (Sub)|
Tony Ferguson: W (Dec.)
|Tony Ferguson: W (TKO)|
Kevin Lee: W (Sub)
|Donald Cerrone: W (TKO)|
Jared Gordon: W (KO)
|Edson Barboza: W (KO)|
Namajunas vs Esparza 2
Namajunas first faced Esparza back in 2014 during “The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned” finale. Esparza won their first matchup by submission, winning the tournament and becoming the UFC’s first-ever strawweight champ.
Namajunas would return and win the belt from Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who won it from Esparza. She then lost it in a couple of years later when a slam from Jessica Andrade knocked her out cold.
Since then, she has beat Andrade in a rematch and won the belt back from Zhang Weili in 2021.
Meanwhile, since losing the belt in 2015, Esparza has seen continued success in the UFC on her long road back to the title picture. After losing to Jedrzejczyk, Esparza has gone 8-3. She is currently on a five-fight win streak with victories over Yan Xiaonan, Marina Rodriguez, Michelle Waterson, Alexa Grasso and Virna Jandiroba.
The two strawweights facing each other again and revisiting the birth of the division will be an exciting and nostalgic feeling for long-time fight fans.
Zhang Weili: W (Dec.)
|Last 5||Yan Xiaonan: W (TKO)|
Zhang Weili: W (KO)
|Marina Rodriguez: W (Dec.)|
Jessica Andrade: W (Dec.)
|Michelle Waterson: W (Dec.)|
Jessica Andrade: L (KO)
|Alexa Grasso: W (Dec.)|
Joanna Jedrzejcyzk: W (Dec.)
|Virna Jandiroba: W (Dec.)|
Chandler vs Ferguson
When the Octagon door closes with Chandler and Ferguson inside, expect one thing: chaos.
Both men are intense fighters with chips on their shoulder. Neither is afraid of anyone or any aspect of a fight. Will the two guys stand and bang? Probably. Will they go to the ground and aim for submissions? Maybe, though this is probably more likely for Ferguson, but still a strong maybe.
Regardless, both guys like to put on a show for the fans and are willing to sacrifice their bodies and take damage in ways other fighters do not. Simply put, these two are just built different.
While this is an exciting matchup and probably the most of the night, this is a serious bout for both fighters. They both need a win on Saturday.
Chandler is 1-2 in the UFC after his multiple title reigns in Bellator and Ferguson is on a three-fight losing skid. Plus, both guys are north of 35, which means there most likely isn’t a lot of time left to win gold if a belt is the goal.
The stakes are high as can be for the lightweights without a belt being directly involved and both men are hungry to prove they still belong with the very top of the division. So expect violence.
Justin Gaethje: L (Dec.)
|Last 5||Beneil Dariush: L (Dec.)|
Charles Oliveira: L (TKO)
|Charles Oliveira: L (Dec.)|
Dan Hooker: W (TKO)
|Justin Gaethje: L (TKO)|
Benson Henderson: W (KO)
|Donald Cerrone: W (TKO)|
Sidney Outlaw: W (KO)
|Anthony Pettis: W (TKO)|
How to watch UFC 274:
- What: Oliveira vs Gaethje is the main event
- When: Saturday, May 7
- Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix
- Schedule: Early Prelims at 4:30 p.m., Prelims at 7 p.m. (ESPN+); Main Card at 9 p.m. (ESPN+ PPV)
Full UFC 274 card betting odds
- Lightweight: Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje
- Strawweight: Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza
- Lightweight: Michael Chandler vs Tony Ferguson
- Light Heavyweight: Mauricio Rua vs Ovince Saint Preux
- Lightweight: Donald Cerrone vs Joe Lauzon
- Welterweight: Andre Fialho vs Cameron Vancamp
- Welterweight: Randy Brown vs Khaos Williams
- Featherweight: Macy Chiasson vs Norma Dumont
- Flyweight: Brandon Royval vs Matt Schnell
- Heavyweight: Blagoy Ivanov vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima
- Welterweight: Francisco Trinaldo vs Danny Roberts
- Flyweight: Tracy Cortez vs Melissa Gatto
- Flyweight: Kleidison Rodrigues vs CJ Vergara
- Strawweight: Ariane Carnelossi vs Loopy Godinez
- Bantamweight: Journey Newson vs Fernie Garcia