Saturday marked the highly anticipated UFC 274, which would have featured two title fights at the top of the card if not for some unfortunate issues at the scale. UFC lightweight champion (we’ll call him that for the purposes of this article) Charles Olivera took on top contender and relentless striker Justin “The highlight” Gaethje for the 155-pound title, but the fight itself and incredible performance given by Olivera may just be overshadowed due to his official weight, which ended up being a half pound over the UFC limit, causing a stripping of his title.
I’m going to keep this article mainly to my own opinion, because I really do believe this is one of the most fascinating things to happen in the history of the company. Olivera’s legacy is one of the most interesting in the sport, a man who was notorious for quitting in the middle of fights and was labeled as a fighter with no heart has completely turned his career around to become UFC lightweight champion in dominant fashion. Olivera is a jiu-jitsu specialist hailing from Brazil who has built is combat sports arsenal exponentially in the last few years to become one of the most well-rounded fighters in the game and has earned the respect and love of many due to his humble attitude and exhilarating fighting style. However, a tough day at the scales earlier in the week nearly derailed a hype train that is cementing Olivera as one of the best lightweights of all time. Charles came to the scale at 155.5 pounds, putting him over the 155-pound limit. He was the last fighter to weight in and was even given an additional hour after his first weigh in attempt to get down to the required weight, but ultimately failed to do so. Opinions on this phenomenon have been mixed to say the least.
Due to his missed weight, Olivera was stripped of his once-defended UFC lightweight title, leaving the belt vacant for Saturday’s fight. The catch here is that only Gaethje could win the belt with a victory over Olivera which didn’t exactly come into fruition. Gaethje is one of the most electrifying fighters in the entire sport due to his relentless pressure and seeming inability to move backwards and defend in times of need. This guy is scared of nothing; he’s willing to walk right into the fire with absolutely anybody just in the hopes of landing a clean shot with the absolute dynamite he possesses in his hands. That’s what made this matchup fascinating; Gaethje’s ruthless attitude mixed with Olivera’s incredible technical skill was sure to make for a barn-burner of a bout. Gaethje came out swinging for the fences, aiming to literally take Charles’s head off as he loaded up each one of his punches with immense force. He actually dropped Olivera a couple times, but declined to engage with him on the mat, a nod to Olivera’s incredible jiu-jitsu. The fight came to a close, though, when Olivera dropped Gaethje with a right hand of his own, and pounced on him to put Justin to sleep with a beautifully executed rear-naked choke in the first round. And of course, controversy ensued.
I’ll start by saying, Olivera is by far the best lightweight fighter in the world. Absolutely nobody is touching this guy right now, and the murderer’s row he’s faced in his last few fights is living proof. He now owns wins over Porier, Ferguson, Chandler and Gaethje, as he continues to clean out one of the UFC’s glamour divisions. The missed weight leading to the striping of his title has been met with mixed reviews. Some say that rules are rules, and the belt no longer belongs to him, and I somewhat agree with them. As a fighter it’s your job to regulate and manage your weight heading into fight week, and Olivera couldn’t do so for whatever reason. While a half a pound is brutal to miss by, the fact remains that he missed weight. However, in my opinion, the dude is the undisputed champion. He’s shown nothing but dominance and perseverance in his last 11 fights which have all been wins. I don’t think anyone is taking Olivera’s title any time soon, other than himself of course.