High-level lightweights Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje are scheduled to headline a UFC pay-per-view event on Saturday night from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
While weigh-in issues yesterday dramatically caused Oliveira to lose his championship status and stopped him from walking away from UFC 274 with the title, Gaethje still has the chance to earn a belt in the fight this evening.
That’s just one of the 15 bouts expected to take place Saturday. Follow along throughout the evening for updates on the event.
Early Prelims (5:30PM EDT / 2:30PM PDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 14: Charles Oliveira (32-8) vs. Justin Gaethje (23-3) (UFC Lightweight Championship)
Oliveira Remains Atop Lightweight Division Following Win Over Gaethje, But Loses Status As Champion
Charles Oliveira maintained his status as top lightweight on Saturday night despite no longer being recognized as the UFC Lightweight Champion.
While being stripped of his lightweight belt, Oliveira mounted a quick one-round comeback against Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 274 to keep his winning streak alive.
Oliveira put an end to his fight against Gaethje with a rear naked choke in the fourth minute of action. He got Gaethje to the ground just moments before, flooring him with a right cross.
Gaethje had Oliveira in trouble much earlier in the bout, scoring two knockdowns to start the round.
The first shot came from a right uppercut that Gaethje landed in a clinch. Moments later, a right hook from Gaethje got Oliveira to the ground again.
While Oliveira emerged victorious on Saturday night, he is no longer the UFC Lightweight Champion. Since he missed weight by half a pound at Friday’s weigh-ins, he was stripped of his champion status and was unable to earn the belt on Saturday night.
Because he scored the win on Saturday night, Oliveira has been guaranteed a shot in UFC’s next lightweight title bout.
“Hey, hey. There’s something missing here. The champion has a name, and his name is Charles,” said Oliveira in a post-fight interview, declaring himself the champion despite the official loss of status.
Oliveira earned the belt in May 2021, scoring a second-round finish victory over Michael Chandler to earn the vacant title. He defended that belt once later that year by submitting Dustin Poirier.
Gaethje was challenging for a belt for the second time on Saturday. His previous shot came in November 2020 against Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired undefeated following his win on that card.
Gaethje sprung back into the title picture last year after putting on a performance against Michael Chandler that many considered “Fight of the Night.”
Bout 13: Rose Namajunas (11-4) vs. Carla Esparza (18-6) (UFC Strawweight Championship)
Esparza Regains Title From Namajunas After Slow-Paced, Controversial Bout
Carla Esparza kicked off her second reign as UFC Strawweight Champion on Saturday night, defeating Rose Namajunas via split decision after a stagnant five-round contest (48-47 Namajunas & 49-46 Esparza & 48-47 Esparza).
The fight quickly gained a notorious reputation for the low amount of activity from both strawweights throughout. The crowd unleashed boos periodically throughout the entire fight and shared their disapproval again when the decision for the bout was read.
Namajunas was primarily focused on striking during the fight in the minimal moments that she engaged in the fight. Esparza was more interested in scoring takedowns, shooting in for numerous attempts, and briefly getting Namajunas to the canvas a few times.
“You never want to be part of a fight like that. You want to excite the crowd,” said Esparza in her post-fight interview, while the crowd continued to boo.
Saturday’s co-main event was a rematch years in the making.
Namajunas and Esparza first met back in 2014 in the grand finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.” In that fight, Esparza pulled off a third-round submission victory to earn the UFC Strawweight Championship.
Namajunas entered this fight on her second reign as a 115-pound champion. She regained the belt in April 2021, knocking out Zhang Weili with a head kick. Namajunas later defended the belt in a rematch against Zhang, earning a split decision victory.
Esparza was given the title fight after earning five consecutive wins from 2019 to 2021, including a recent stoppage victory over Yan Xiaonan.
Bout 12: Michael Chandler (22-7) vs. Tony Ferguson (25-6) (Lightweight)
Chandler Scores Front Kick Knockout Against Ferguson
Michael Chandler scored a brutal walk-off knockout on Saturday night, catching Tony Ferguson with a front kick early in the second round.
The front kick immediately knocked Ferguson out, causing the fight to end just 17 seconds into the round. Ferguson remained down and motionless for numerous moments after the fight, but was eventually able to get up.
Ferguson succeeded in the first round of the fight, even scoring a knockdown during the frame. Chandler recovered quickly, scoring a takedown later on. From that position, both fighters landed damage with ground and pound.
Chandler called for many potential opponents following his win. First, he proclaimed he is ready for a rematch against either Justin Gaethje or Charles Oliveira – the headliners for Saturday’s main event, and two names that he lost to last year. He then said that if that fight cannot be made, he wants former champ Conor McGregor.
Ferguson has now lost four consecutive bouts against some of lightweight’s top names. His previous appearance was just under a year ago, losing a fight to Beneil Dariush.
Bout 11: Ovince St. Preux (25-16) vs. Mauricio Rua (27-12-1) (Light Heavyweight)
St. Preux Takes Decision Over Rua To A Chorus Of Boos
Ovince St. Preux scored a win over two-decade MMA veteran Mauricio Rua in front of a disapproving crowd on Saturday night, winning in a split decision result in the end (29-28 Rua, 29-28 St. Preux & 30-27 St. Preux).
St. Preux got the win after a three-round striking battle that was at a slow but steady pace throughout.
The crowd was not fond of this style of fight, booing throughout the second and third rounds. Furthermore, the crowd started to use their phone flashlights during the fight to create a sea of dotted lights on the TV broadcast.
Rua was returning after a year outside of the cage. His previous fight was a stoppage loss against Paul Craig in 2020.
St. Preux broke a two-fight skid with the win on Saturday’s main card.
Bout 10: Randy Brown (14-4) vs. Khaos Williams (13-2) (Welterweight)
Brown Earns Split Decision Nod Over Williams
Randy Brown prevailed in a close split decision victory over welterweight Khaos Williams in the first bout of the main card (29-28 Brown, 29-28 Williams & 29-28 Brown).
The fight saw Brown battle back against Williams in a striking battle to earn a win.
Williams had a solid opening round to the fight, hurting Brown in the third minute of the bout with punches.
Brown woke up in the second round, upping his output against Williams and backing the aggressive striker up during exchanges.
It all came down to the final round, where both fighters had strong moments. Williams seemingly rocked Brown briefly in the final round, but he was able to recover and get back to his feet shortly after.
The crowd seemed to disapprove of the fight result, booing after it was read.
Williams was also attempting to make his winning streak a trio. His last win was a finish against Miguel Baeza in November 2021.
Bout 9: Francisco Trinaldo (27-8) vs. Danny Roberts (18-5) (Welterweight)
Trinaldo Showcases Power In Decision Victory
Veteran Francisco Trinaldo showed his powerful striking skills in the final prelim, hurting Danny Roberts a couple of times on the feet en route to a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 30-26 & 30-27).
Trinaldo took a clear lead in the fight once the second round started. In this round, Trinaldo visibly wobbled Roberts on the feet with punches. He later took the fight to the ground, where he attempted a guillotine choke and landed more punches to the head of Roberts.
Trinaldo was able to rock Roberts again in the third round with a punch, and overall out-landed him in that final frame as well.
Trinaldo, 43, is now on a two-fight winning streak. His prior win in the current streak was a victory against Dwight Grant last year.
Roberts made his return in his previous appearance, defeating Ramazan Emeev on scorecards.
Bout 8: Macy Chiasson (7-2) vs. Norma Dumont (7-1) (Featherweight)
Chiasson Takes Split Decision Against Dumont
Macy Chiasson secured a split decision win on Saturday night, defeating Norma Dumont after a three-round stand-up battle (30-27 Chiasson, 29-28 Dumont & 30-27 Chiasson).
Chiasson had the better strikes during stand-up exchanges, landing a variety of punches to the head and kicks to the leg. While Dumont would return with her own shots, Chiasson was the one consistently scoring with the better blows.
The win was a bounce-back for Chiasson after suffering a submission loss against Raquel Pennington late last year.
Dumont entered the weekend on a three-fight winning streak, including a main event win over Aspen Ladd from last year.
Bout 7: Brandon Royval (13-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-6) (Flyweight)
Royval Submits Schnell Early To End Hectic Battle
Brandon Royval had a hectic win on Saturday night, catching Matt Schnell early with a submission after dealing with some early adversity.
Royval submitted Schnell with a guillotine choke in the third minute. He got this submission by diving down to an already grounded Schnell, who had his neck available for a choke.
Royval struggled prior to the sudden win. He got hurt on the feet early in the fight, and also had to escape being on the receiving end of a guillotine choke as well before the finishing sequence.
Royval has now earned two wins in 2022. His previous win was on the first card of the year, defeating Rogerio Bontorin in a split decision result.
Schnell was appearing for the first time in nearly over a year. Numerous canceled bouts in recent months forced him out of competition recently. He is now on a two-fight losing streak.
Bout 6: Blagoy Ivanov (18-4) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-7-1) (Heavyweight)
Ivanov Earns First Win Since 2019
Blagoy Ivanov got back into the win column on Saturday night, taking a unanimous decision victory over Marcos Rogerio de Lima (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Ivanov’s win came through a sluggish three-round battle on the feet between the heavyweights. The fighters traded shots through all three rounds, going back-and-forth at times with slow punches. Ivanov had the edge in many exchanges, earning him the win on scorecards in the end.
Judging online for the fight wasn’t as unanimous as the judges found it. Six of the 12 media panelists for MMADecisions.com scored the fight in favor of Rogerio de Lima.
Ivanov entered the weekend on a two-fight losing streak and was hunting for his first victory since 2019.
Rogerio de Lima had won his two previous fights in the UFC cage, including a 32-second finish win against veteran Ben Rothwell.
Bout 5: Andre Fialho (15-4) vs. Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1) (Welterweight)
Fialho Catches VanCamp With Left Hook For Early Finish
Andre Fialho picked up a sudden finish win on Saturday night, catching Cameron VanCamp with a slick punch for his second UFC victory.
Fialho floored VanCamp with a counter left hook as part of an exchange on the feet. Because of the way VanCamp fell, the referee stepped in to end the bout just seconds later.
The finish came after a hectic couple of minutes in the fight where both welterweights both got clipped by shots at times.
Fialho has now scored two consecutive finish wins in the UFC. He scored his first promotional victory just last month, stopping Miguel Baeza in the first round with strikes.
VanCamp was making his UFC debut after scoring a four-fight winning streak on the regional scene.
Bout 4: Tracy Cortez (9-1) vs. Melissa Gatto (8-0-2) (Flyweight)
Cortez Wins Flyweight Debut Against Gatto
Tracy Cortez won her debut in the UFC flyweight division on Saturday night, handing Melissa Gatto her first pro loss with a unanimous decision outcome (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).
Cortez won the fight by taking the first and the third rounds on scorecards, using her wrestling to get Gatto to the ground and put together control time.
Gatto’s best round was the second frame, where she was able to attack Cortez with numerous submission attempts on the ground.
Cortez is now on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC, with her two previous appearances being up at bantamweight.
Gatto had an undefeated pro record of eight wins and two draws before Saturday, including two UFC victories.
Bout 3: Kleydson Rodrigues (7-1) vs. CJ Vergara (9-3-1) (Flyweight)
Vergara Sneaks By Rodrigues With Split Decision
CJ Vergara had a close result for his first UFC victory, defeating Kleydson Rodrigues via split decision on the prelims (29-28 Vergara, 29-28 Rodrigues & 29-28 Vergara).
The back-and-forth fight saw the battle have close moments on the feet and more dominant exchanges on the ground.
The first round of the fight had the aggressive flyweights compete in a stand-up battle.
Vergara spent most of the second round on top in full guard, landing punches from the position. Rodrigues escaped the position in the final minute of the frame, allowing him to land some strikes on the feet before the clock ran out of time.
Rodrigues was able to get a significant amount of control time in the final frame, taking the back of Vergara at one point. Vergara was the more aggressive fighter on the feet late, marching forward with shots.
The fight put Vergara back into the win column after losing his UFC debut last year against Ode Osbourne.
Rodrigues was debuting in the UFC with this fight. His previous performance was on “Dana White’s Contender Series,” where he beat Santo Curatolo.
Bout 2: Loopy Godinez (7-2) vs. Ariane Carnelossi (14-2) (Strawweight)
Godinez Dominates Carnelossi For Second Consecutive UFC Win
Loopy Godinez had an incredibly dominant victory on the prelims, defeating Ariane Carnelossi on scorecards by a wide margin after three rounds (30-27, 30-26 & 30-26).
Carnelossi had no match for Godinez’s wrestling in all three rounds. Godinez delivered impactful slamming takedowns throughout the fight, then used positions on the ground to unload with ground and pound shots.
Godinez also succeeded on the feet, notably hurting Carnelossi with punches briefly in the second round.
Godinez has now earned three wins through five appearances in the UFC. Her previous fight was in November 2021, when she beat Loma Lookboonmee on scorecards.
Carnelossi had a two-fight winning streak before Saturday, with both wins coming via finish.
Illness Forces Cerrone Out of Lineup
UFC 274 suffered a late change on Saturday evening, as it was announced that Donald Cerrone withdrew from his main card bout against Joe Lauzon.
Cerrone was pulled from the fight due to a non-COVID-19 illness, per the UFC broadcast on Saturday.
Lauzon was fighting to snap a lengthy losing streak that he developed in recent years. Across from him, Lauzon was scheduled to make his first appearance in over two years.
Because of the change, a welterweight bout between Randy Brown and Khaos Williams was moved to the main card. Also, a heavyweight clash between Blagoy Ivanov and Marcos Rogerio de Lima went from the early prelims to the preliminary card.
Bout 1: Journey Newson (9-3) vs. Fernie Garcia (10-1) (Bantamweight)
Newson Earns First UFC Victory In Return
Journey Newson picked up his first official UFC victory on Saturday night, defeating promotional newcomer Fernie Garica via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 29-28).
A solid striking performance from Newson in the second and third rounds of the bout earned him the victory. The stand-up skills of Newson in these frames overwhelmed Garcia and rocked him with shots at times.
Newson’s three previous UFC appearances resulted in two losses and one no contest. His appearance on Saturday was also the first time he competed since September 2020.
Garcia was appearing in the UFC for the first time Saturday. He joined the roster last year on “Dana White’s Contender Series,” stopping Joshua Weems in the first round with strikes.