UFC 274: Charles Oliviera VS Justin Gaethje
Saturday, May 7 – Footprint Center, Phoneix, Arizona
Well, that was unexpected.
Charles Oliviera has become the first fighter in UFC history to be stripped of his belt for failing to make weight the day before a fight.
The now-former UFC lightweight champion hit 155.5 pounds on his first weigh-in attempt, then was still at 155.5 when he returned to the scale an hour later. Oliviera had to vacate the lightweight title and he will not be able to win the belt. The way that the rules are written in UFC, Just Gaethje will still be able to win the belt if he beats Oliviera as he was able to hit the contracted weight of 155 pounds. At the time of writing – and this is certainly subject to change – the main event of UFC 274 is still slated to see Gaethje fight Oliviera.
This makes an already interesting fight suddenly become unlike anything we have ever seen before at the UFC level. Oliviera cannot keep his belt. He can, however, prevent Garthje from winning it. This is a massive swing and will create a spectacle that is new. How much with Oliviera care? A win for him here vacates the belt, but will he be in line for a shot at that belt given his inability to meet the contracted terms here?
Gaethje is now fighting a lame-duck champion, albeit one that can stop him from winning the belt. His mindset will have to be the same. Oliviera is still the same fighter he was before the weigh-in and there is no reason for the champion to fight with any less force than he would have originally.
Oliviera is a monster. He has won 10 straight fights and nine of those have been by stoppage. He is the career UFC record holder for submission wins, but there are a lot of miles on that body. Oliviera is calculated, while Gathje is a fighter with a violent nature who wants to win every fight by knockout. If Oliviera can geet Galthje to the ground things turn in his favor. Galthje though has historically been good at avoiding such situations. I like Galthje to use the fuel of the missed weight of Oliviera to take his violence to another level and win this.
The co-main features Rose Namajunas defending her women’s strawweight belt against Carla Esparza. This is their second fight – eight years in the making – after Esparza beat Namajunas in the finals of 2014’s “The Ultimate Fighter” to become the first strawweight champ.
Esparza is a better fighter now than she was then. The problem she has here is that the champ is lightyears ahead of where she was in 2014. This one will go to Namajunas as she gets revenge and successfully defends her strap at 9/20 with BetXchange.
Michale Chandler is a heavy favorite over Tony Ferguson in another f the night’s featured fights. Ferguson is riding a three-fight losing streak and at 38-years-old this is the last chance saloon for him. Chandler will simply be too aggressive and too quick, winning this one in a convincing fashion.