UFC 274 fight fallout: Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev, Michael Chandler vs. Beneil Dariush must be done

The UFC lightweight division is championlessbut the healing process can begin following UFC 274. Saturday’s pay-per-view from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona was a mixed bag, but the lightweight division showed up and s is shown.

Oliveira went on to establish his case as one of the greatest lightweights in MMA history. He took a major punishment from Justin Gaethje before laying down the title challenger and getting a rear-naked choke. Michael Chandler carried the damage inflicted by Tony Ferguson and turned off the lights with a mesmerizing KO front kick.

UFC women’s strawweights Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza are sure to be one of the worst fights in history, but thankfully that means the division can only go up from here. Spaced Reclaimed UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship and set the record for longest time between title reigns.

CBS Sports has re-enacted four fights to go the day after UFC 274.

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light division

Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev – vacant UFC lightweight championship: Oliveira is your uncrowned UFC lightweight champion. Despite the drama of being stripped of his crown for a weight loss that may or may not be entirely his fault, “Do Bronx” excelled against Gaethje. Oliveira showed relentless spirit and a willingness to endure hell against Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. A match against Makhachev presents a very interesting challenge. Makhachev drowns his opponents with takedowns and maximum pressure en route to a submission. Oliveira has such a big submission threat, even on his back, that most fighters refuse to go near him. Makhachev probably can’t face Oliveira in a straight match, so it will be fascinating to see how these two expert grapplers execute their game plans. We’ll probably never see former lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov against Oliveira, so why not the next best thing?

Michael Chandler vs. Beneil Dariush: Chandler bounced back from a tough first round against Tony Ferguson and qualified for Knockout Contestant of the Year. Chandler called for a rematch with Oliveira’s winner against Gaethje or a big money match against Conor McGregor. There is, however, one other clear fight that surely propels the winner into a title fight. Makhachev was linked with a fight with Beneil Dariush before Dariush injured his ankle. UFC President Dana White has expressed interest in rebooking Makhachev against Dariush, but Oliveira needs an opponent and Dariush’s return schedule is not publicly known. Dariush is in rare form and is generally a very exciting fighter. His seven-fight winning streak includes a decision over Ferguson, a fight of the night against Carlos Diego Ferreira, a knockout punch of Scott Holtzman and three consecutive performance bonuses against Drakkar Klose, Frank Camacho and Drew Dober. Sounds like Chandler’s kind of fight.

Strawweight Division

Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk winner – UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship: Namajunas vs. Esparza 2 is arguably the worst five-round fight in UFC history. There are very few people chomping at the bit for a trilogy fight. White, during the UFC 274 post-fight presser, said Esparza would be paired with Zhang’s winner against Jedrzejczyk. It’s absolutely the right choice. Namajunas-Esparza’s second chapter was “Attack of the Clones” bad, but Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk might produce a more interesting sequel. Jedrzejczyk beat Esparza’s brakes in 2015 to win the women’s strawweight title. Maybe Esparza can succeed where Namajunas failed to get revenge. Alternatively, a fight with Zhang Weili works great. Zhang vs. Jedrzejczyk is scheduled for UFC 275 on June 11.

Rose Namajunas vs. Marina Rodriguez: Rodriguez would have had a case for a title fight had Namajunas won. Unfortunately, she lost a split decision to Esparza in 2020. This opens the door to what is hoped to be a fun and punchy matchup between Namajunas and Rodriguez.