Despite being stripped of his belt after failing to make the 155-pound lightweight title match limit, Charles Oliveira fought like a true champion in tonight’s main event at UFC 274. In what was scheduled to be his second title defense, Oliveira walked through the fire of Justin Gaethje’s heavy hands, came out the other side, and secured the first round finish.
As many expected, this bout was a high paced, action packed affair from the second the fight began. Gaethje came out aggressively, and sent a chopping calf kick that landed flush. Oliveira weathered the blow and fired back with a straight right that seemed to stagger Gaethje momentarily.
After a brief clinch initiated by Oliveira, which allowed the opportunity for him to land some stiff knees to the body, Gaethje dropped the former champion to the canvas with a well-timed uppercut. As Gaethje was unwilling to engage in a grappling match, referee Marc Goddard stopped the action briefly to bring Oliveira back to his feet.
Shortly after, Gaethje connected with a hard right hook during an exchange of strikes that sent Oliveira down for a second time. Once again, Gaethje backed off and his downed opponent was called upon to stand. At this point, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt realized that Gaethje was not going to willingly take this fight to the ground, and that he would need to generate some more powerful offense on the feet.
Oliveira upped the pace and started mixing in low kicks, beautiful straight punches, and even a flying knee that partially connected. The two continued to trade hard shots, with the surrounding crowd on their feet and roaring.
In an act of high level fight IQ, Oliveira delivered a precise right cross as Gaethje dropped his guard while shucking away from an attempted clinch. This shot dropped Gaethje to the mat, which gave Oliveira an excellent opportunity to gain a dominant ground position and utilize his grappling.
After a reverse triangle attempt, and a subsequent scramble, Oliveira was able to take the back of Gaethje. From here, it was just a matter of flattening Gaethje out, rolling him slightly to the side, and cinching his arm under the chin to complete the submission.
Gaethje tapped out due to the squeeze of Oliveira’s rear naked choke at 3:22 of the very first round.
The most dangerous finisher in the UFC strikes again 💥
— UFC (@ufc) May 8, 2022
Even though Oliveira was not able to retain his title at UFC 274, despite winning in convincing fashion, the victory over Gaethje places him as the number one contender. This means he will have an opportunity to fight for the vacant belt in the near future.
The best LW in the world 🌎
— UFC (@ufc) May 8, 2022
As a result of this match, Oliveira’s record moves to 33 wins with 8 losses, and adds an 11th win to his undefeated streak. Furthermore, he is the record holder for most victories by submission in the UFC, and tonight he increased that record holding number to 15.