Behind The Tale Of The Tape: Analyzing UFC’s Top Lightweights Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier
UFC 269 will be headlined by the lightweight title fight between current champion Charles Oliveira and challenger Dustin Poirier.
The fight will be the first title defense for Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira. He just came off a title win against Michael Chandler, beating him by TKO in the second round and breaking a record for most finishes in UFC history with 17.
Despite being champ he is considered the underdog in this matchup.
This is not a knock on Oliveira, but a credit to the talents of his opponent.
Poirier is coming off two consecutive wins over the highly decorated and famous Connor McGregor. Poirier is widely considered by many to be the best lightweight in the world.
Let’s see how both fights got to this point.
Poirier was born in Lafayette, Louisiana.
He grew up playing multiple sports but was always drawn to fighting. He does not fear chaos and violence, In fact, he relishes it.
”…..It’s weird to say, but I found a sense of calm in the chaos. I enjoy that about fighting,” he previously said.
Poirier’s desire to fight is not up for debate, especially in his youth.
He got into many fights as a teenager and dropped out of high school in the ninth grade due to repeated instances of getting into trouble and street fights. He spent time in a juvenile detention center and did not finish high school.
Despite these early setbacks, Poirier possessed a burning desire to make his passion a career.
He turned professional in 2009 competing in Louisiana regional circuit and across the Southern United States.
This part of his career was captured in the acclaimed documentary “Fightville.”
He would sign with World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC); The company would later merge with UFC in 2010.
Poirier would start off his career in the UFC as a featherweight, going 7-3 during that period, becoming a top 10 ranked featherweight.
He lost his last fight at that weight to the Notorious Mcgregor.
He would later avenge that loss with multiple wins against McGregor. The Louisiana native made a decision to jump back into the heavily competitive lightweight class.
He felt he was depleting himself trying to shed weight at the lower divisions and that he could put the best version of himself in the ring at 155. That decision has paid dividends.
In his first fight as a lightweight, he knocked out Carlos Diego Ferreira, winning UFC performance of the night. He would then beat Max Halloway by unanimous decision to win the interim UFC lightweight title.
He would then lose to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his title defense. He has won his three fights bringing his record to 28-6.
Now he has another opportunity at the title and he wants to take it head-on.
“I’ve educated myself through the fight game. I’ve traveled the world and learned so much by paying attention to everything around me.”
Oliveira also faced a lot of adversity growing up.
He was born in a favela slum in the town of Guaruja, Sao Paulo Brazil.
At age seven, he was diagnosed with Rhematic fever and a heart murmur severely compromising his ankles and the possibility of eventually becoming paraplegic.
A neighbor of his introduced him to the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He would receive lessons for free due to social programs and his family would also help fund his training by selling snacks and discarded cardboard.
“Do Bronx” would become an amateur in 2007 and become a professional in Brazil in 2008.
During his time as a professional fighter in the country, he accumulated a record of 12-0. He made his UFC debut on August 1, 2010 against Darren Elkins submitting him via armbar in the first night rewarding him with submission of the night by the UFC.
This would be a recurring story for Oliveira fights. Nineteen of the black belt’s 31 wins have come via submission. In 2019, he broke the UFC record for most submission wins with 13.
Despite being a grappling wonder, Oliveira won his title fight against Chandler by TKO.
“Not even in my wildest dreams [had] I thought I would get the belt the way I did,” Oliveira said. “I am just really grateful for it and grateful for everyone around me; grateful for God, for making my dreams come true.”
Poirier is the more well-rounded fighter who can beat you in multiple ways.
Not only does he hold a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu like his counterpart, but he is extremely proficient in the art of striking.
His boxing skills have been loaded and he has taken down top-level strikers Justin Gaethje, and Eddie Alverez to go along with his strike downs of McGregor and Holloway. He also averages a ridiculous 5.59 significant strikes per minute.
Poirier’s striking ability might be the difference.
Oliveira is a master submission machine and has the two-inch reach advantage of 74 inches compared to Poirier’s 72 inches.
His striking may not be as good as the challenger’s, but he does have nine wins by knockout and he is becoming a better striker.
His best chance at victory would be using his reach advantage and somehow getting his opponent to the ground where he does his best work. Poirier has a takedown defense of 61%. This is a weakness to exploit for Oliveira.
You can watch UFC 269 Saturday, December 11 on ESPN+ at 10 p.m.