Monster versus Monster! An epic night for mixed martial arts is in the books! Michael Chandler defeated Tony Ferguson at UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday night. In the main card fight contested in the Men’s Lightweight division, the 36-year-old from High Ridge, Missouri, scored a dramatic Round 2 knockout against his Monster Energy teammate. The fight also earned Chandler the UFC’s ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus worth $50,000.
Monster Energy’s Chandler (23-7) and Ferguson (25-7) both came to Arizona looking to get back in the winner’s bracket. Chandler most recently suffered a decision loss in his spectacular battle against Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 in November 2021. As the former Interim UFC Lightweight Champion, Ferguson wanted to break his three-fight loss streak after being defeated by Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira and, most recently, Beneil Dariush at UFC 262 in May 2021.
Right from the start, the fight between Chandler and Ferguson unfolded as the kind of explosive battle the UFC was created for. Both fighters engaged with high pressure, Ferguson displaying his signature speed and power while Chandler landed strategic strikes. The audience gasped when Ferguson rocked Chandler with a lightning-fast left hand, briefly sending him to the canvas.
But Chandler returned fire and towards the end of the first round scored a textbook double-leg takedown. Dominating from the top, he began chipping away at his opponent with heavy ground and pound. Nevertheless, Ferguson remained dangerous even on his back and retaliated with punishing elbows that visibly hurt Chandler’s eye.
Undeterred by the damage, Chandler stepped into Round 2 with confidence and a surprise up his sleeve. Early in the round, he sensed an opening in Ferguson’s defense and landed a brutal high kick to the chin that instantly felled his opponent to the ground, knocked out cold.
The audience and UFC commentators were stunned as referee Jason Herzog stopped the fight at 0:17 seconds of the second round with Chandler as the winner by knockout. Ferguson regained consciousness and stood in the center of the Octagon as Chandler’s hand was raised as the winner.
The K.O. by high kick, a move that Chandler admits to rarely practicing, is already heralded as a potential Knockout of the Year contender. “We don’t even train that, that much. It just happened. There was a lane right up the middle,” said Chandler upon winning the main card bout at UFC 274. The victory also earned Chandler the UFC’s ‘Performance of the Night’ award worth $50,000, his third performance bonus in just four UFC appearances.
Chandler made his successful debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promotion in January 2021 at UFC 257 with a first-round TKO victory over Dan Hooker. Before joining the UFC, Chandler dominated the Bellator MMA promotion as the world’s first three-time Bellator Lightweight World Champion. Having joined Bellator in 2010, the decorated All-American collegiate wrestler set a record for most stoppages in Bellator history at 13.
What’s next for Monster Energy’s Chandler? Right after the fight, Chandler called out two opponents in the lightweight division: “There is not one MMA fan on the planet that doesn’t want to see me rematch you Charles [Oliveira], or rematch you Justin Gaethje.” He also targeted UFC superstar Conor McGregor for a bout at welterweight. Stay tuned as Chandler is back in the winner’s circle!
Also at UFC 274, the promotion announced a major milestone: The induction into the UFC Hall of Fame of MMA icon and former two-division UFC World Champion Daniel “DC” Cormier. As part of the UFC’s Hall of Fame Class of 2022, Cormier will be inducted in a ceremony on Thursday, June 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas during the UFC’s International Fight Week festivities.
The 43-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, is recognized for his career as a professional MMA athlete including Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion titles in the UFC. Retired from the sport since 2020, the former Olympic wrestler shares his insights as an ESPN television analyst on UFC live broadcasts and serves as a high school wrestling coach in California.
“’DC’ is one of the greatest ambassadors UFC has ever had, and it’s going to be an honor to induct him into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer,” said UFC President Dana White on Saturday night in Phoenix. Congratulations to Cormier from everyone at Monster Energy on this accomplishment.