UFC 274 emanated from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. It was an event that we’ll look back on for a long time for a variety of reasons. Let’s discuss.
Every time Charles Oliveira fights, he seems to be reaching a new level. Justin Gaethje had extreme confidence heading into this fight. He believed that Charles Oliveira would crumble under his pressure. However, it was ultimately Justin Gaethje who crumbled under the pressure of Charles Oliveira. We knew the fight would start off fast and that’s what happened. Oliviera rocked Gaethje with a right hand just 9 seconds into the fight. Gaethje recovered and began to land leg kicks and even dropped Oliveira. It was towards the end of the 1st round that Oliveira dropped Gaethje with a right hand and then immediately took the fight to the grappling realm. Oliveira quickly transitioned from an armbar to a rear-naked choke and submitted Gaethje. Only 2.59% of the Verdict Community predicted a 1st round submission for Oliveira.
When Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas first competed in December of 2014, it was an action-packed fight that led to Esparza finishing Namajunas with a rear-naked choke. Since that fight, Namajunas reinvented herself as a fighter and became the reigning Champion while Esparza went on a winning streak that earned her another title opportunity. This was Namajunas’ opportunity to avenge her loss to the first woman that defeated her in the UFC. The Verdict Community was very confident in Namajunas, as 80% predicted her to defeat Esparza. Before we even knew it, the fight ended up in the Championship rounds without either fighter doing anything. It was a lacklustre fight where both fighters did not engage. This was a difficult fight to score because there wasn’t much to score. Esparza ultimately earned a split decision win to reclaim the Strawweight title.
After losing 3 consecutive fights, a lot of people started to lose faith in Tony Ferguson. Not because they wanted to, but because of what they saw. Ferguson had little to no success in his last 3 fights. Coming into this fight week, Ferguson kept mentioning how structured this camp was and how serious he was taking this fight. You could see improvements immediately as Ferguson looked like his old self in the 1st round. He wobbled Chandler with a punch and kept attacking his body with kicks. It seemed hopeful that Ferguson could win again. However, all of those thoughts came to a sudden end just 17 seconds into the 2nd round when Michael Chandler brutally finished Tony Ferguson with a front kick to the face. This was the first time in his career that Ferguson went completely unconscious. UFC President Dana White called it the most vicious knockout he’d ever seen.
Their first fight in 2014 ended in just 34 seconds with OSP finishing Shogun by knockout. Whereas the first fight had action immediately, the rematch dragged out for 15 minutes. As we saw in the co-main event, OSP vs. Shogun 2 was a fight where both competitors looked hesitant to attack. The fans in the arena booed OSP and Shogun for the majority of the fight and a lot of the crowd began to turn on their flashlights on their phones at one point. OSP won the fight by split decision.
The main card kicked off with an action-packed fight between Randy Brown and Chaos Williams. Williams dropped Brown in the 1st round and it seemed like the fight was going in the direction of Williams. However, Randy Brown made fast adjustments and looked like a new fighter when the 2nd round began. You could see the confidence in Brown’s body language as he started to land a variety of strikes against Williams. The fight came down to the 3rd round which was razor close. Randy Brown earned a split decision win.
This fight was a late addition to Verdict after Donald Cerrone was forced to withdraw from his fight against Joe Lauzon. 43-year-old Francisco Trinaldo pushed the pace for the entire 15 minutes and earned a unanimous decision win. Trinaldo has been competing as a professional since 2006 and in the UFC since 2012.