The UFC is back on pay-per-view and back in front of a live crowd this weekend at UFC 262. There will be a new lightweight champion not named Khabib Nurmagomedov or Conor McGregor for the first time in over five years. Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will fight for the vacant title. With Nate Diaz and Leon Edwards being bumped to June, Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush will be the co-main event in what should be a fantastic fight. However, if you look past the main and co-main event, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
The Return of Sean Soriano
Soriano makes his return to the UFC after a six-year absence. Oh, and it’s on short notice. He originally made his UFC debut back in 2014 against Tatsuya Kawajiri at UFC Fight Night: Saffiedine vs. Lim. Soriano would lose against Kawajiri and then lose his next two fights against Chas Skelly and Charles Rosa, leading him to get released. Soriano would spend the next six years busting his ass on the regional scene, trying to get back. Well, all of the grinding and hard work paid off because he’s back. Soriano is on a three-fight winning streak and will be looking to notch his first UFC win.
The Debut of Tucker Lutz
Tucker “Top Gun” Lutz makes his UFC debut after being awarded a contract on season four of Dana White’s Contender Series last year. He actually fought and won twice on the season. The first time was against Chase Gibson, but UFC President Dana White was impressed enough with the unanimous decision win and asked he come back two months later. “Top Gun” would come back and dominantly defeat Sherrard Blackledge to win the contract. Lutz lost his professional debut but is now on an 11-fight win streak – only being to the judge’s scorecards three times.
There are three fighters on the UFC prelims on a three-fight losing streak and desperately need a win, or else their time in the UFC will come to an end. It is crazy to think Jacaré Souza is on a losing streak, let alone a three-fight skid. The MMA veteran is on the last leg of his career, and if he wins, I wouldn’t be surprised if he left his gloves in the octagon. He needs to win, though. It is not like he is losing to scrubs either. Jacare has lost to Kevin Holland, current light heavyweight champion Jan Błachowicz, and middleweight contender Jack Hermansson. Andrea Lee, like Jacare, has lost to nothing but top contenders but is in must-win mode. Joanne Calderwood, Roxanne Modafferi, Lauren Murphy are the names that beat Lee, but you can argue she won at least one of those. She faces Antonina Shevchenko this weekend. Kevin Aguilar is the third fighter who needs to win. Aguilar started 2-0 in the UFC but has lost every fight since.
Jamie Pickett vs. Jordan Wright
The Night Wolf vs. The Beverly Hills Ninja goes down on Saturday, and more than likely, it will not be going all three rounds. Pickett holds an 81% finish rate, while Wright holds a 100% finish rate. They both are Dana White’s Contender Series alumni, with Pickett winning a contract last season. Both fighters are coming off a loss, with Pickett looking to get his first UFC win. Fun fight incoming.
Mike Grundy’s Third UFC fight
Grundy makes his U.S. debut at UFC 262 and is looking to make a statement. The English fighter had his nine-fight win streak snapped last year against Movsar Evloev on ‘Fight Island.’ Before his loss, Grundy won his UFC debut against Nad Narimani in 2019, winning via TKO. Grundy is one of the best wrestlers in the featherweight division and has a 75% finish rate. Other than his TKO win in his UFC debut, all of his finishes have come by submission. Grundy faces Landa Vannata, who is as game as anyone in the promotion and is also looking to bounce back from a loss.
Can Viviane Araújo Steal The Flyweight Title Shot?
This is a total hypothetical situation but hear me out. Araujo fights Katlyn Chookagian, who is ranked No. 2 in the flyweight division and is easily one of the best flyweights in the division, not named Valentina Shevchenko. IF Araujo goes out there and dominates or finishes the former title challenger violently, does she skip the line?
Lauren Murphy vs. Joanne Calderwood going down at UFC 263 next month, which is the No. 1 contender fight – and if Murphy wins, she gets the next shot, no questions asked. BUT if Calderwood wins…does she deserve the title shot?
A dominant win over Chookagian or a win over Murphy. Which holds more weight? Interesting times are ahead in the flyweight division.
Enjoy the fights!
Order UFC 262 below
MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.