MMA Junkie’s ‘Fight of the Month’ for May: A back-and-forth title fight

Jiri Prochazka’s (28-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) quick rise up the UFC light heavyweight pecking order continued with his all-time knockout of Dominick Reyes (12-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) in their main event clash.

Prochazka, a former Rizin FF champion, got his second octagon victory in memorable fashion when he unleashed a spinning back elbow in the second round. After a wild opening frame, Prochazka perfectly timed the blow, becoming just the third fighter in UFC history to land a knockout with the technique.

Anthony Johnson’s (23-6 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) return to MMA competition after roughly five years was a rollercoaster, but in the end he showed he still has big power with a finish of Jose Augusto (7-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in their light heavyweight grand prix quarterfinal.

“Rumble” overcame a scary moment in the first round when he was nearly stopped by Augusto. He showed heart and survived the flurry, though, and in the second round landed a bomb of a punch that floored his Brazilian foe and allowed him to advance to the tournament semifinal.

.@Anthony_Rumble had a few words to follow this KO at #Bellator258.#MMA #BellatorOnShowtime

— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 8, 2021

Longtime octagon contender Edson Barboza (22-9 MMA, 16-9 UFC) stopped Shane Burgos (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) with one of the more bizarre finishes in recent memory in their featherweight matchup.

After a firefight in the first two rounds, Barboza carried the edge into the third. He landed the right hand that had been working for him all night, but it had added consequence. Burgos had a delayed reaction to the blow, stumbling backward before Barboza rushed him and finished the job.

Charles Oliveira’s (31-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) in-cage journey to the UFC lightweight title was longer than any champion before him in company history, and it came at the expense of Michael Chandler (22-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC).

Oliveira was nearly finished by Chandler’s strikes in the first round, but came out of the gate on fire in the second frame when he landed a sweet hook that dropped Chandler just seconds in to the round. Chandler tried to evade the stoppage, but Oliveira – who set a new record for most finishes in UFC history with the win – was not to be denied the title-winning TKO.

After 11 years with the promotion, Oliveira finally sits atop the UFC throne.

In the UFC 262 main event, Oliveira knocked out Chandler to claim the promotion’s vacant lightweight title.

There was no shortage of momentum shifts in the opening round. Oliveira came out firing leg kicks, to which Chandler responded with some wild overhand punches. One connected and put Oliviera on his back foot. Oliveira shot in for a takedown and Chandler locked in a guillotine. Oliveira broke free and worked his way to Chandler’s back.

Although they remained in that position for a while, Oliveira was unable to secure a submission. Chandler muscled his way free from Oliveira’s grasp. Once on the feet, he was eventually met and dropped by a flurry of hard punches from Chandler. Somehow, Oliveira survived to see in the end of the round.

As the momentum swung toward Chandler at the start of Round 2, Oliveira quickly brought it to a halt. After he dropped Chandler with a left hand, Oliveira swarmed the former Bellator champion with a series of punches against the cage. Chandler tried to scramble away but was met by another Oliveira left hand that dropped him. Oliveira kept punching until referee Dan Miragliotta saw enough to stop the fight.

A member of the UFC roster for more than a decade, Oliveira became champion in his first title challenge after 27 appearances in the promotion. His winning streak extended to nine, including eight finishes.

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