A Look Into UFC 274’s Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje
Preview: Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to us this weekend, May 7, 2022, to showcase a UFC lightweight title bout between champion Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira and former interim champion Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje.
We’ve seen such a remarkable career resurgence out of Oliveira over the last few years, and the same could be said for Gaethje.
‘Do Bronx’ came to the UFC back in 2010 at just 20 years of age with a perfect record of 12-0, and he quickly went 2-0 inside the promotion with two submission victories. We knew we had a serious talent on our hands at this point.
However, he’d go winless over his next three bouts (0-2) 1 NC, before going 2-2 over his next four.
Oliveira did rebound with a four-fight win streak following, but fell quite hard once again, going 2-4 over his next six.
Not only was he losing, but he was getting knocked out in a number of these defeats, and he was even submitted three times, to our surprise. Jim Miller submitted him to hand him his first defeat back in 2010, and he was submitted by Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas in 2016.
It appears he was a breakable man earlier on in his career, as many have said, but he’s not that same kid anymore. He’s a grown adult now, at 32 years old, and following his defeat to Paul Felder in 2017, seeing him fall to 22-8 (1 NC), he hasn’t lost since.
‘Do Bronx’ has since gone 10-0, claiming and defending the UFC lightweight championship over his last two bouts.
This win streak has included nine finishes; the only opponent he couldn’t finish was former interim champion Tony Ferguson, who he would have finished had he had ten more seconds left in round one.
This includes wins over the likes of Clay Guida (guillotine choke), Jim Miller (rear naked choke) in their rematch, Nik Lentz (TKO) in their trilogy, Jared Gordon (KO), and then in his last four Kevin Lee (guillotine choke), Tony Ferguson (UD), former multi-time Bellator champion Michael Chandler (TKO) to claim the vacant title, and another former interim champion in Dustin Poirier (rear naked choke) to defend his title.
The fight where we really began to notice these improvements however was in his fourth-straight victory that came over 39-1 professional kickboxer David Teymur, who he nearly finished on the feet multiple times prior to jumping on a choke.
Oliveira has always had good striking, good Muay Thai fundamentals, but he believes in it now, and it’s made him the most well rounded, dangerous fighter in the world considering.
‘The Highlight’ finally came over to the UFC in 2017, also undefeated, with a record of 17-0 as a multi-time WSOF lightweight champion. After defeating Michael Johnson (TKO) in his promotional debut, he’d drop his next two to Eddie Alvarez (KO) and Dustin Poirier (TKO).
All the wild wars he had finally caught up to him in these two fights, but honestly, he was looking great in both encounters up until he was finished. Alvarez caught him with a knee he was too exhausted to see coming with just one minute remaining in the fight, and his fight with Poirier was as one-sided of a beatdown as you can see.
Gaethje was handily up three rounds to none going into that fourth round against Poirier, but again got just a little too reckless and was stopped 33 seconds into round four.
Following this however, Gaethje racked up four-straight victories, laying claim to the interim UFC lightweight championship with his victory over Tony Ferguson (TKO).
This streak also saw him stop Edson Barboza (KO) and Donald Cerrone (TKO), both in the first round.
What the really impressive thing about this is, Barboza was 25-3 as a professional kickboxer, and Cerrone went 28-0-1 in kickboxing, also as a professional. Both of which became champions in the sport, and Gaethje made it look easy, too easy.
Following his two-straight setbacks, he really changed his game up. He’s still an incredibly entertaining fighter, and he still goes for the kill just as often as before, but he’s tightened it up a lot.
Instead of being reckless and chaotic for the entire fight, he now waits for the right opportunity to do so, and instead breaks his opponents down with his precise shot selection leading up to those openings.
Gaethje went into his fight with then champion Khabib Nurmagomedov as the interim champion, and lost his title in attempt to unify it, as the Russian legend submitted (triangle choke) him in the second round.
Gaethje then rebounded with a win over Michael Chandler himself (UD), and now he heads into UFC 274, again as a no. 1 contender.
Charles Oliveira (32-8) 1 NC vs Justin Gaethje (23-3)
We’ve stated that Oliveira gets hurt often in his fights, he just fights through it now, rather than folding up as he used to at times. But, can he really take Justin Gaethje’s best shot?
With how devastating Gaethje’s leg kicks are, not to mention his vicious, accurate hands, that he uses his leg kicks to set up, this is a very dangerous fight for the champion. But so was his last fight, so was the fight before that, and the one before than. He’s been passing all these tests with flying colors.
The thing is, he was beaten badly by Chandler in the first round before coming back and finishing him in the second, and Poirier dropped him more than once as well. If Gaethje can land really any punch at full force, it could be a short night for the Brazilian.
Gaethje has a vicious left hook, great uppercuts from both sides, a nasty overhand right, then those leg kicks that he can and will land at seemingly any angle.
Then we have the skills of the champion; there’s a reason we said he’s the most well rounded talent in the sport.
Charles Oliveira has so many strikes he can resort to on the feet. From his knees in the clinch, flying knees, front kicks up the middle to the body and head, his punches of all sorts, he really is a handful for anyone he faces at this stage.
Then we have his grappling, where he boasts a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Gaethje does come from a wrestling background, having become an NCAA Division I All-American, and his takedown defense is good, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can stop it.
The amount of records ‘Do Bronx’ has simply because of his grappling is remarkable, you can check below to see just what we mean. Not to mention, he’s great at getting his fights to the mat as well. His body lock takedown is amongst the very best in the entire sport.
Then once he has his opponents down, it generally doesn’t take long to secure a finish.
This man is the only fighter to have ever submitted Japanese grappling ace Hatsu Hioki (anaconda choke). He became the first man to submit Myles Jury (guillotine choke), former multi-time Bellator champion Will Brooks (rear naked choke), Jim Miller (rear naked choke), and now Dustin Poirier (rear naked choke).
Of those five names, four are BJJ black belts with a lot of submission wins throughout their careers, and the one that doesn’t boast a BJJ rank is a four-time world champion.
‘The Highlight’ has to be incredibly mindful of that and keep this fight on the feet at all costs. Because if it hits the mat, it’ll be over. We saw what happened when he fought Nurmagomedov, and believe it or not, ‘Do Bronx’ is every bit as spectacular of a grappler as him.
Charles Oliveira Accomplishments:
- PFC welterweight gran-prix winner
- UFC lightweight champion – one defense
- Most finishes in UFC history (18)
- Most submission wins in UFC history (15)
- Tied for most submission wins in UFC lightweight history (9) – Jim Miller
- Most submissions in UFC featherweight history (6)
- Tied for most post-fight bonuses in UFC history (18) – Donald Cerrone
- Most Performance of the Night bonuses in UFC history (12)
- Only fighter to submit opponent with a reverse calf slicer in UFC history
- 32-8, 1 NC (9 knockout, 20 submission, 3 decision)
Justin Gaethje Accomplishments:
- WSOF lightweight champion – five defenses
- Interim UFC lightweight champion
- Only fighter to acquire a bonus in each of their first seven UFC bouts
- Nine bonuses through first seven UFC bouts
- 10 bonuses in nine total UFC bouts
- Five-time Fight of the Year winner
- 23-3 (19 knockout, 1 submission, 3 decision)
Notice, the champion has 20 wins via submission, and the challenger has 19 via knockout. That, along with all the other factors mentioned makes this fight incredibly intriguing.
How do you see this epic lightweight championship encounter going down? Will Charles Oliveira retain his title or will Justin Gaethje capture UFC gold?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you’d like to see those pieces, be sure to check out learnaboutnature.com!