A battle for the vacant lightweight championship between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler headlines on Saturday night in Houston, Texas, as a loaded UFC 262 fight card is on tap. The 155-pound title was vacated when Khabib Nurmagomedov opted to stick to his retirement promise, so now the time has nearly arrived to crown a new king in the lightweight division.
While these may have not been the most likely and/or deserving challengers for the vacant title, they are almost even in terms of skill. That's why oddsmakers have set this line so close with Oliveira getting the slight nod as favorite.
Chandler, who held the Bellator MMA lightweight title on three separate occasions, is among the hottest fighters in the sport. He holds a 10-2 record since 2015 with one of those losses coming via freak foot injury. Chandler made an emphatic debut when he stopped Dan Hooker in the first round in January and was elevated to title contention immediately. Oliviera is about equal in terms of hotness. The Brazilian enters on an eight-fight win streak and recently broke the UFC record for most submissions in a career.
There's plenty of other fights to get excited about on this card. Rising lightweight contender Beneil Dariush is back when he takes on former interim champion and perennial contender Tony Ferguson in the co-main event. Ferguson will enter on the first two-fight losing streak of his career. Plus, action fighters Shane Burgos and Edson Barboza meet in a featured contest at featherweight. And Matt Schnell takes on Rogerio Bontorin in a flyweight bout to open up the PPV festivities.
Big events bring big attention, and with it, big money at the betting window. UFC 262 is loaded with intriguing fights and close odds. William Hill Sportsbook has you covered with every angle to get in on the action. We're going to give you a few options to consider with this card from our favorite moneyline play, prop play and parlay play. Let's take a closer look at those picks now.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.
Best moneyline pick
Tony Ferguson +145 vs. Beneil Dariush
There are generally two lines of thinking coming into this fight. Either Ferguson ran into two streaking talents with Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira putting on career-best performances, or time and damage have caught up with a 37-year-old fighter who is closing in on being shot. The reality probably lies somewhere in the middle, with Ferguson both on the decline and having ran into two men who have fully put it together in the cage. This is no knock on Dariush, who is a very solid fighter in his own right, but he is not on the level of Oliveira or Gaethje, and the men he has defeated on his current six-fight winning streak are not on even an aging Ferguson's level. Dariush is the kind of fringe contender that Ferguson has feasted on throughout his career. Assuming the read is correct and Ferguson still has some gas left in the tank, getting him at plus odds feels very good here.
Best prop pick
Edson Barboza vs. Shane Burgos to go the distance (no) +130
Only roughly 35% of Barboza and Burgos' combined 45 career fights have gone to the scorecards. Five of those 16 decisions have come since 2019. Those stats somewhat offset as decisions are rare for the two fighters, but they also have become increasingly less rare in the past two years. Still, this is an explosive combination of fighters who have the ability to finish fights and who are not impervious to being stopped by a certain tier of opposition. You could get a slightly juicier line at +138 by going with a bet on the fight going under 2.5 rounds, but that's not a big enough difference to give up two and a half minutes of time for a finish to possibly come.
Best parlay pick
Andrea Lee (+110), Mike Grundy (-125), Jordan Wright (-110) +622
There are very few fights with wide odds on this card, meaning a parlay play is going to come down to finding the right edges in a series of competitive fights. Lee is a slight underdog against Antonina Shevchenko and currently riding a three-fight losing skid in competitive fights -- including a robbery against Lauren Murphy. Shevchenko's grappling looked somewhat improved in her last outing, but that may be a mirage given her opponent. Lee is entirely capable of winning this fight by dominating on the ground, where Shevchenko has always had serious issues. Grundy is a steal at -125 against Lando Vannata, who is making a move to featherweight. Vannata has some explosive power and tenacity, but doesn't have the best cardio, can get drawn into ill-advised brawls and isn't likely to be able to handle the wrestling of a true high-level wrestler in Grundy.
That leaves Wright, who will face Jamie Pickett in a middleweight fight. It's a battle of fighters who tend to fight like frontrunners. Wright is slightly better at not allowing himself to be pushed backward and may have the better striking power of the two men. Assuming he can impose his will early, Wright should be able to force Pickett into bad habits that allow Wright to work his way to a decision win.
Who wins Chandler vs. Oliveira? And which underdog is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed UFC 262 picks, all from the ultimate insider who's up nearly $9,500 on MMA picks in the past year, and find out.