Charles Oliveira ended the first round of his UFC 262 main event bout in deep trouble against Michael Chandler.
Just 19 seconds into the second round, Oliveira had claimed the vacant lightweight title.
Oliveira charged out of his corner after taking the one minute between rounds to recover and dropped Chandler with a left hook, then followed up with a series of punches and elbows against the cage until the fight was stopped.
“At my gym, we have a saying, ‘It can rain stones, but the stones are going to come back,’ ” Oliveira said. “Michael said I couldn’t take pressure. He hit, hit, hit and I’m still here. And here’s the belt.”
Chandler had locked in a guillotine early in the first round, then spent the last two minutes in top position dropping punches on Oliveira. At one point, the referee leaned in and appeared to at least be considering stopping the fight.
Then it all changed.
Oliveira is no stranger to overcoming adversity. The Brazilian, 31, who debuted in the UFC in August 2010, set a record for longest time elapsed between a UFC debut and a first shot at the title.
Chandler, conversely, just made his UFC debut in January after spending a decade in Bellator and winning that organization’s title three times.
The belt was vacant because Khabib Nurmagomedov decided to retire, but Oliveira emphatically stated his case as the new champ.
“I just wanted to come here tonight and show I’m the best in this division,” Oliveira said. “I told you I was going to knock him out, and I came and knocked him out. I’m proving to everybody I’m the lion of lions. Michael, you’re a great champion, but today is my day.”
For the last several years, there was a strong belief in the mixed martial arts world Tony Ferguson was the best lightweight to never hold that undisputed belt.
He lost his third straight fight on Saturday and appears unlikely to ever achieve that goal.
Beneil Dariush beat Ferguson from the opening bell, taking him down at will and inflicting damage on the mat for the entire 15 minutes.
It was the seventh straight win for Dariush.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “That was my 20th fight in the UFC, and I’m finally in the conversation. I’d like to see myself in a title eliminator, but my daughter will be born next month and I want to spend time with her so you probably won’t see me until the end of the year or early next year.”
Dariush had Ferguson in a deep leg lock in the second round, though Ferguson refused to tap despite a look of anguish on his face.
He had already dug himself a hole on the scorecards, but Ferguson’s movement was impacted the rest of the fight.
“His knee popped,” Darish said. “ I heard it. He’s a zombie, no doubt about it.”
The sold-out capacity crowd was squarely in the corner of bantamweight Matt Schnell, but it wasn’t enough for the only fighter on the card announced as fighting out of Houston to get a victory.
Schnell took some big shots and faded down the stretch as he lost a unanimous decision to Rogerio Bontorin.
The win snapped a two-fight losing streak for Bontorin, who missed weight by a pound on Friday.
Women’s flyweight contender Katlyn Chookagian wore down Viviane Araujo, winning in a unanimous decision.
She is 3-1 since losing a title bout to champion Valentina Shevchenko in February 2020 and hopes to get a shot at redemption.
Veteran Edson Barboza won his second straight fight since dropping four of five. He stopped featherweight Shane Burgos early in the third round to open the main card.
Barboza landed a crushing right hand that staggered Burgos, who seconds later wobbled backward and fell against the cage before another punch was thrown.
On the preliminary card, former middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza lost his fourth straight fight when he was submitted by Andre Muniz.
It was the first time Souza, a 41-year-old jiu-jitsu world champion, had ever been submitted in a mixed martial arts bout.