I absolutely bombed my predictions for UFC 261. I went 2-3, bringing my overall prediction record to 11-4. The one predictions I got right were Valentina Shevchenko’s victory, which was so obvious that even casual fans could get it right, and Uriah Hall’s victory, which had was a fluke injury stoppage that the UFC has only ever seen once before.
My rocky predictions do not mean that 261 was not an absolute blast. The live crowd was bumping from the first bout on the prelim card to the main event. The commentary team was in rare form, with Daniel Cormier even going into his old fighter persona to confront Jake Paul. Jimmy Crute tried fighting on a leg about as strong as a washcloth, Chris Weidman legitimately snapped his lower leg in half, and Shevchenko dominated without breaking a sweat.
Then the final two fights were amazing! “Thug” Rose Namajunas hits Zhang Weili with a flashy and powerful side head kick, looking like Shawn Michaels in the process. Her emotional reaction and celebration were a beautiful reminder of how hard these fighters work and how much those big golden belts mean to them.
Then, there was the Kamaru Usman knockout. The cleanest knockout I have ever seen in my life, Jorge Masvidal went to sleep immediately. Usman’s hook was so powerful and so uniform, you would be surprised to know that his striking was considered a weakness up to this point.
The UFC is having an amazing year when it comes to putting on brilliant event after brilliant event, and they will definitely want to keep that pace up. The rest of their year is loaded with stacked cards, so 2021 can be the UFC’s best year.
UFC 262 is the next stop on their wild 2021, and although it is probably the shallowest card of the year, it has the potential to be the most intense event of the year. The first four fights on the main card feature fighters looking to gain Dana White’s attention and earn a title shot shortly, while the main event features the most stacked division in the promotion crowning its new champion.
For this prediction piece, I am focusing on my own predictions, but, because I thought it would be funny, I am also going to feature some casual fans’ predictions. Why? Because it is funny and also because if they go 5-0 while I go 0-5, I will inevitably write another article in the midst of an existential crisis, which you readers tend to like.
Match 1: Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin
The main cards of 2021 have featured a ton of knockouts, so it is about time we got to look at some submission specialists.
Both men combine for 19 wins by submission, and have a ton to prove in this matchup. Rogerio Bontorin took this fight on short notice and is fighting above his usual weight class, so he wants to prove he is a man worth watching and deserves a shot at Figuerido’s Flyweight title. Meanwhile, Matt Schnell is looking to put himself in the running a title shot against Aljamain Sterling, who is arguably one of the most vulnerable champions in the promotion. This will probably be a grappling showcase, which does set a poor pace for the pay-per-view, but could be an exciting bout for MMA enthusiasts.
Sara (Casual Fan): Schnell – Has weight advantage (actually weighed in one pound lighter)
Hunter (Casual Fan and Editor-In-Chief of Border Fuel… also the person editing this article): Schnell – he seems like a better striker from looking at his stats
Byron: Schnell – Schnell is just going to hug Bontorin and lean on the cage for 15 minutes. It’s a decision victory.
Match 2: Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza
If the first fight is a grappling showcase, the second match is going to be all about standing and throwing hands.
Shane Burgos is a rising star in the UFC featherweight division, with the ability to end a fight wherever he needs to. He lands a ridiculous seven significant strikes a minute and displays a steady steel jaw when absorbing six significant strikes per minute.
Barboza is a featherweight veteran, with twice as many fights in his career as his opponent in this bout. He fights on his feet and very rarely leaves them. He takes almost every fight he competes into the judges, where his strategic striking style makes him a favorite on the scorecards. He is in the twilight years of his career, so he is working to get one last title shot, but that requires a finish here.
Sara: Barboza – Weight advantage (nope, both fighter weighed in at the same number)
Hunter: Burgos – Way better striker in terms of str accuracy and str lpm (whatever that means). He also seems like a chill dude, so I hope he wins
Byron: Burgos – This will likely go to the judges scorecards, which does make me wary of picking against Barboza. However, I think Burgos is going to score some knockdowns, and potentially get some effective ground and pound, which always get’s judges going.
Match 3: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo
The UFC has never had a better roster of women in the promotion, and they are finally getting the bigger spotlight they deserve.
Chookagian is a nightmare of Holly Holm’s creation. The plan is simple when she fights: grab your opponent, lean against the cage. She has the ability to keep from getting rocked but lacks the ability to rock opponents, so playing the wrestling game is essential.
Araujo is also a wrestler, but she prefers taking opponents to the ground and forcing the air out of their lungs down there. Every one of her UFC fights has gone into the third round, which showcases her great stamina. She does have the capability to end a fight on the ground, with submissions and TKOs, but has not showcased that since coming into the UFC.
Sara: Araujo – Looks stronger
Hunter: Araujo – she has a lot of advantages over her opponent (i.e: str accuracy, takedown average, and accuracy, etc). Plus, the last name is cool
Byron: Chookagian – She has a six-inch leg advantage over Araujo, which gives her a significant wrestling advantage. It also gives her the speed advantage to avoid a stand-and-bang fight.
Match 4: Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
In a month, Tony Ferguson will be celebrating his ten-year anniversary with the UFC. Are you ready to have another conversation about Dana White continuing to roll out UFC veterans and the faces of the company just to get blasted?
Ferguson brings his years of experience into this bout. At 37 years old, Ferguson has won fights in every way possible, and only lost four bouts total. His last two fights have resulted in losses, but they came at the hands of Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira, two of the top UFC lightweights. He is going to want one more title fight before retirement and needs to finish this fight if he wants to stay anywhere near relevant in the DEEP lightweight division.
Dariush is another rising star in the lightweight division who needs to topple a star to start even considering a shot at the lightweight division. He is a very strategic striker who stays on his feet and breaks down his opponent’s bit by bit. Ferguson seems to be his first major test in the UFC, and he will have definitely have his work cut out for him.
Sara: Dariush – Looks better when fighting
Hunter: Dariush – his last name sounds cooler. Better sig str accuracy
Byron: Ferguson – Five-inch reaches advantage, plenty of motivation, and unbelievable depth of fighting knowledge. I like Ferguson to not just win but win in a first-round KO. Plus, Dana can not be looking at the prospect of having Conor win in July, having him become champion in December/January, and giving us Ferguson vs. Mcgregor for the very first time in the summer of 2022 for the lightweight title without licking his chops.
Match 5: Lightweight Title Bout: Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
Khabib Nurmagomedov has retired. The belt will finally be back in the states and consistently defended. All heart Michael Chandler. The future Charles Oliveira. In the wise words of the other Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble”
Michael Chandler spent 10 years in Bellator, becoming one of the biggest names in the MMA outside of the UFC. Then, in 2020, he made his way to Dana White’s playground and made his presence immediately felt. In the main event of a Fight Night in January, Chandler stopped Dan Hooker halfway through the first round. Four months later, he is one victory away from a UFC title.
Charles Oliveira is a python, making his way through the UFC and strangling everything in his path. 19 submission victories are the most in UFC victory by far, and the young Brazilian is not anywhere near finished. He has a 90% finish rate, 10 performances of the night awards (most in UFC history), and is one finish away from passing “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone for most finishes in UFC history.
The winner will fight the winner of Dustin Poirier vs. Conor Mcgregor in July, meaning that not only will the winner become champion, but they will be showering in cash very soon.
Sara: Chandler – Seen Oliveira fight before, was not impressed
Hunter: Oliveira – his last name sounds cool, and it looks like he has a lot of advantages (i.e height, reach, sig str accuracy, and so on)
Byron: Chandler – I should choose Oliveira because he appears to be the better fighter. If this were a simulation (it might be) Oliveira chokes out Chandler in a few minutes. However, we live in the real world. We live in a world where Michael Chandler is a three-time champion in Bellator, while Oliveira is looking at his first title bout. Michael Chandler is coming into this match with so much passion and desire that not only could I not be surprised by, but am predicting a first-round knockout.