- Date & Location: Saturday, May 7 @Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ
- Time: Early Prelims (TBA), Prelims (8 p.m. ET), Main Card (10 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass, ESPN+), Prelims (TBA, ESPN+). Main Card (ESPN + pay-per-view)
The UFC is back in Arizona for the first time in nearly a year for the UFC 274 pay-per-view card on May 7. Like the promotion’s previous trip to the state, UFC 263, this event features two title fights and an important lightweight scrap at the top of the card.
In the main event of UFC 274, Charles Oliveira puts his UFC lightweight title and 10-fight winning streak on the line against Justin Gaethje. The fight is Oliveira’s second defense of the crown he won in May 2021. For Gaethje, this is his second attempt to secure the UFC 155-pound belt. He fell short in his first title fight when Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted him at UFC 254.
In the co-main event, we have a rematch of the inaugural women’s strawweight title fight. In 2014, Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to win the 115-pound belt. Namajunas is now the titleholder and she puts that belt on the line against Esparza in Arizona.
The lightweight feature fight sees Michael Chandler against Tony Ferguson. Chandler is on a two-fight losing skid, while Ferguson has dropped three straight.
UFC 274 Main Event odds
Oliveira vs. Gaethje prediction and pick
This fight comes down to who can impose their will. Justin Gaethje has some of the best leg kicks and heaviest hands in the UFC to go along with an incredible chin. He has also become a more cerebral fighter over the past few years, eschewing his brawling style for a more measured approach. Meanwhile, Charles Oliveira has a good all-around game, but he is exceptional on the ground.
I think Olivera has the fight IQ and skills to implement his will in this fight. His best course of action is to either fight all the way in or all the way out. That will allow him to negate the power of Gaethje’s strikes and perhaps allow him to take the fight to the cage, where he should be able to get a takedown and use his superior ground skills to get the victory.
Pick: Oliveira to beat Gaethje.
UFC 274 Co-Main Event odds
Namajunas vs. Esparza prediction and pick
A lot has changed since Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas in 2014 and most of those changes have been on Namajunas’s side of the ledger. When the two first faced off, Namajunas was only in her second year as a pro. She was 2-1 ahead of that bout. Esparza was a pro for four years and had 11 pro fights and was coming off winning the Invicta FC strawweight title.
Namajunas has really come into her own since that first fight and she is now a complete mixed martial artist. The most important part of Namajunas’ growth has been her ability and willingness to have faith in her team and their advice. Namajunas has the skills to implement any tips her coaches give her and outside of the mistake that cost her a KO loss to Jessica Andrade in 2019, Namajunas has been nearly perfect over the past five years.
Esparza deserves this rematch. She has won her past five fights, but she is not the overall fighter that Namajunas is.
Pick: Namajunas to beat Esparza.
UFC 274 Lightweight Feature odds
Chandler vs. Ferguson prediction and pick
Tony Ferguson has not won a fight since he defeated Donald Cerrone in June 2019. Since then he has lost to Gaethje, Oliveira and Beneil Dariush. Ferguson was once one of the most feared fighters in the lightweight division, but his days of dominance seem to be behind him. If he has any hope of climbing the ladder back to the top of the division, he needs a win a UFC 274.
The problem facing Ferguson is that he is no longer an elite fighter. That’s not to disparage Ferguson, but to simply point out that his foot to the floor fighting style and age have caught up with him.
Michael Chandler’s most recent win was a 2021 TKO win over Dan Hooker in his UFC debut, since then the former Bellator champ has lost to Oliveira and Gaethje. Chandler might not be a future UFC champion, but he is a fighter who is competing at a higher level than Ferguson and that fact will allow him to get the win at UFC 274.
Pick: Michael Chandler to defeat Tony Ferguson.
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