UFC 274 recap: The Thriller in the Desert
UFC 274 live from Arizona is officially in the books the card itself had a fair share of controversy, excitement and snoozers along the way. The controversy sparked last week on the scales when former lightweight champion Charles Olivera was informed he’d be stripped of his belt after a failure to make weight. Olivera came in .5 pounds overweight so his challenger Justin Gaetjthe and he would be the only one able to win the belt.
Going into the night the question that was asked is how motivated would Olivera be after knowing he had potentially nothing to fight for? The fight only lasted a round but it was an action packed round. Oliveira (33–8, 1 NC) finished Gaethje by submission with a rear naked choke in the first round. It was a spectacular performance, and Oliveira was a step ahead of Gaethje (23–4) in striking, technique, and on the ground. Gaethje knocked down Oliveira a couple of times, but did more damage to himself than he did to his opponent. Olivera has now won 11 fights in a row, and he is wiping out top contenders in a frightening manner. Even without the title, the lightweight division runs through Oliveira. The name of the night had been Connor McGregor. "Hey there is something here," Oliveira teased during the post-fight interview with help from a translator. "This is a message to the entire division. I am a problem for the entire division. Look at this team, look at me. I am enlightened. That is my title. It should be here. "Hey Conor McGregor, are you coming up or are you going to run away?"
As for the co-main event it may have been the most underwhelming fight in the history of UFC. The women’s strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Carla Espraza had very little action and it was a hard fight to judge. The fight was fought at a snail's pace. Other than a few jabs and a takedown here and there the action just didn’t exist. The belt changed hands via split decision UFC has a new champion in Carla Esparza. With the win, Esparza becomes the second two-time champion in the division’s history. Esparza ran up a five-fight win streak over Virna Jandriroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez, and Yan Xiaonan to earn another crack at gold, and walked away with her goal accomplished.
Perhaps the third fight between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson was the fight that got mostly everyone talking. Both fighters rocked each other good in the first round. Ferguson’s stand up gave Chandler some early problems which made Chandler take the action to the ground. Chandler opened the second round with the single greatest front kick to the face in UFC history. That blow knocked Ferguson out cold, and instantly added momentum for Chandler’s push for a title shot—or a bout against Conor McGregor. Chandler’s kick was reminiscent of a long field goal in football. It was certainly terrifying seeing Ferguson on the ground for so long. Chandler called out the winner of the championship bout or agreed to meet Connor McGregor at 170. “I have one dude on my mind, Conor McGregor! You've gotta come down to fight somebody. I am the most entertaining lightweight on the planet. I want to up the stakes, Conor. I want you at your biggest, I want you at your baddest and I want you at your best. You and me, at 170, this summer, this fall, this winter.” Mcgregor took to twitter within seconds 'I'm definitely game to fight this guy at some stage in my career. I see it happening after tonight. Congrats on a solid win Michael and another barnstormer.”
All in all UFC 274 gave fight fans everything: a tremendous main event, a lackluster main event, built in storylines and one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history, Oh how dare I forget the Hall of Fame announcement of Daniel Cormier. UFC 274 was certainly one for the ages.