On Saturday night in Phoenix, Arizona, UFC Lightweight Champion Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira is facing down top title contender Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje in one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. This will be Oliveira’s second title defense since winning the belt in 2021. If you’re looking to watch UFC 274 online this weekend and want to know more about the defending champ, we’ve picked out a few of the best fights and finishes from his long MMA career. After reading up, be sure to sign up for ESPN+ and grab the pay-per-view so you can stream UFC 274 live.
Charles Oliveira has been a staple of the UFC lightweight roster for more than a decade and has racked up an incredible record of 32 wins, eight losses, and one no-contest throughout his professional career. “Do Bronx,” so nicknamed due to his poor upbringing in a favela in Sao Paolo, Brazil, seemed an unlikely candidate to become UFC Lightweight Champion. His journey through the division has been long and bumpy, and he has bounced between lightweight, featherweight, and catchweight during his 12 years with the UFC. You could write a short book about Oliveira’s 41 professional bouts, but here are five of the champion’s best and most career-defining finishes leading up to UFC 274:
UFC on Versus 2: Oliveira vs. Elkins
Oliveira’s career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship began in 2010 when he made his league debut at UFC on Versus 2. There, he faced Darren Elkins at lightweight. After a rocky start with Elkins seeming to take the high ground early on, Oliveira immediately recovered from a slam to the mat and submitted his foe in the first minute of the first round with an armbar. It was a fitting preview of things to come, marking the beginning of Oliveira’s knack for upsets as well as his run as one of the top submission artists in the lightweight division; a whopping 20 of his 32 professional victories have come via submission.
UFC Fight Night 170: Oliveira vs. Lee
UFC Fight Night 170 was notable for being the last show in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the promotion to postpone further events. Charles Oliveira faced Kevin Lee, another top 10 lightweight, as the headliner on the main card in front of an empty arena. The event took place in Oliveira’s home country of Brazil, and although Lee was favored to win, Do Bronx clinched an upset victory with a guillotine choke submission in the first minute of the third round. This win earned Oliveira a co-headlining spot on the UFC 256 main card against Tony Ferguson, setting him up as a real contender for a future title shot. Oliveira’s victory at UFC Fight Night 170 also accelerated his upward trajectory which would soon culminate in him becoming the champion of one of the most top-heavy divisions in the UFC.
UFC 256: Oliveira vs. Ferguson
Oliveira has long been one of those fighters who, despite a lengthy and impressive career, has flown under the radar of many UFC fans. UFC 256 was arguably the event that changed that. Here, Oliveira faced lightweight legend Tony Ferguson as the co-headliner on the pay-per-view main card. The Brazilian grappler was once again the underdog, and once again surprised viewers with a dominant performance.
Ferguson is considered to be one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC lightweight division. That did not stop Oliveira from controlling this fight almost the whole way through. Both combatants went the distance with the fight lasting through all five rounds. After the dust settled, Oliveira’s tight ground game had earned him a unanimous decision victory — and the coveted title shot for which the Brazilian has been fighting for his entire career.
UFC 262: Oliveira vs. Chandler
Oliveira’s long-awaited title shot finally came in 2021 following the retirement of undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. At UFC 262, Oliveira faced UFC newcomer and former Bellator champion Michael Chandler in a high-stakes contest for the vacant lightweight belt. In an explosive first round, the Bellator veteran seemed to gain the upper hand, but the tables quickly turned early into the second round when Oliveira delivered a punch that connected with Chandler’s chin to send him scrambling backward. Despite Chandler appearing to recover quickly, Oliveira kept his forward momentum and followed up with aggressive pressure to corner his opponent against the cage and send blows raining down for a TKO stoppage. At 19 seconds into the second round, Charles Oliveira had fulfilled his dream to become the champion of the UFC lightweight division.
UFC 269: Oliveira vs. Poirier
Oliveira most recently faced top lightweight title contender Dustin Poirier at UFC 269. Poirier, fresh off back-to-back victories over Conor McGregor, was in a great position to make his long-awaited claim to the UFC lightweight throne. In fact, the Cajun title challenger was favored to win, but his championship hopes would be ultimately dashed.
When the main event of the final UFC PPV for 2021 began, Poirier started the fight strong with Oliveira taking some noticeable damage in the first round and suffering multiple knockdowns. However, the Brazilian champ regained his footing with superior grappling in the subsequent rounds to submit Poirier with a rear-naked choke in the third. With this victory — yet another upset — Oliveira successfully defended his lightweight title for the first time, extended his UFC record for the most finishes, and silenced doubters and critics who claimed that his title reign was owed only to fortunate timing following Khabib’s retirement.
There’s one more serious challenger in the lightweight division that Oliveira has yet to defeat, and that’s Justin Gaethje. Gaethje is now the top-ranked fighter on the UFC lightweight roster, sitting right beneath the champion himself, and he is not likely to be an easy victory for Oliveira. The odds currently favor the defending champion, but no matter how it goes down, UFC 274 is not one to miss. That means now’s the time to sign up for ESPN+ and grab the PPV so you can watch the UFC 274 live stream online on Saturday.
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