Charles Oliveira became the 11th UFC lightweight champion after beating Michael Chandler in the main event of UFC 262.
Charles Oliveira becoming the UFC lightweight champion was a feat that no one saw coming. At least no one who followed his career over the past few years expected this to happen. Yet at the end of the night at UFC 262, the scene was set. Oliveira, whose career threatened to be derailed by a failed run in the featherweight division and who became known for his weight-cutting issues, is now the ‘lion of lions’ in a stacked UFC lightweight division. The world of fighting doesn’t often consist of fairytale runs, but Oliveira’s ascension to UFC lightweight champion comes close.
It’s not as if Oliveira is a bad fighter. He holds the record for most submissions and finishes in UFC history, after all. Yet he was, at one point, almost defined by his weight-making issues and occasional poor judgement during fights.
This contributed to a horror run in UFC from 2015-17, where he lost four out of his 6 bouts. His UFC record at the time hardly made for inspired reading: 10 wins, 8 losses and 1 no-contest.
But something changed after the loss to Paul Felder at UFC 218 in 2017. He began to win – a lot. In fact, he hasn’t lost a match since then.
He followed the loss to Felder with four submission wins against Clay Guida, Christos Giagos, Jim Miller and David Teymur. He then saw off Nik Lentz (TKO), Jared Gordon (KO), Kevin Lee (submission) and Tony Ferguson (unanimous decision).
Yet it is also worth noting that he could very well have not been in this title bout despite his recent form. Many felt Poirier would warrant getting a title shot after knocking off McGregor.
However, Poirier chose the big-money match instead of the title shot against either Chandler or Oliveira.
That being said, it seems likely that Poirier could next face Oliveira for the lightweight title. He would just have to defeat McGregor first.
There’s no doubt that McGregor’s MMA form has suffered since his foray into boxing in a big-money match against Floyd Mayweather. However, it would be unwise to write the Irishman off.
That being said, McGregor has a lot of work to put in if he is to beat Poirier. He was humbled by Khabib Nurmagomedov and even the loss to Poirier appeared to knock his confidence.
A match against McGregor would be a bonus for Oliveira – not only is it a good fight, McGregor’s name recognition would almost certainly draw more PPV buys and mean a bigger payday.
However, there is for later. Right now, the ‘lion of lions’ – as he dubbed himself in the post-match interview – can enjoy the fruits of his more than decade-long labour in UFC.