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The main-event of comes in the Lightweight division, as the Champion Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira makes his second title defense against Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje. Signing with the promotion in 2010, Oliveira over time, seemed like a fighter destined to be a UFC record holder more than a Champion. Always wilting in big fights, something clicked for the Brazilian once the calendar flipped to 2018. A winner of ten straight, which includes a win over Michael Chandler to capture the Lightweight strap and a title defense victory against Dustin Poirier, Oliveira now finds himself building upon a legacy as one of the division’s best of all-time. Meanwhile, the former Interim Lightweight Champion Gaethje comes into this fight a winner of four of the last five. Having most recently defeated Michael Chandler in a blood and guts battle, Gaethje steps into his third title fight looking to finally become the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion.
As for a prediction, I have Oliveira winning. While this fight can go in any direction, Oliveira has proven time and time again that he isn’t the same fighter he was before 2018. No long shelling up when the tough gets going, Oliveira has found himself overcoming adversity and getting the job done. With evolved striking to go with the most dangerous grappling abilities in the UFC, Oliveira has plethora of ways to win. Obviously, avoiding prolonged striking may be advised in this fight. Especially given Gaethje is one of the division’s very best in that aspect. However, I believe Oliveira can hold his own.
Where the fight is won or less though, is if Gaethje can avoid being taken down or simply fending off any grappling attempts made by Oliveira. As we saw in the Poirier fight, Oliveira doesn’t necessarily need a take down. He just needs a small opening in positioning to take advantage. Gaethje being the striker he is, needs to be alert if he is anywhere near the cage. Using pressure and his usual high activity, he should be the one backing Oliveira up. While I can envision a scenario where Gaethje lands something that folds Oliveira, I’m in firm belief that Champ can survive any initial onslaught. And if Gaethje smells blood and follows Oliveira to the ground at any point, the threat of the submission only increases. So with that said, I predict that Oliveira retains via submission.