Charles Oliveira, the lightweight successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov, will be in attendance at UFC 264. In the main event, two of the division’s biggest stars, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, will duke it out in a highly-anticipated trilogy showdown. The winner will likely be Oliveira’s first challenger.
Currently, all eyes are on UFC 264. Oliveira has recently felt like a bit of an after thought with many pundits dismissing his chances of enjoying a long reign at the top. Brushed under the rug as everyone focuses on ‘The Diamond’ and ‘Mystic Mac’, is Charles Oliveira in fact far more dangerous than he’s been given credit for?
Charles Oliveira holds the record for most submission finishes in the history of the UFC at 14. In addition, he also holds the record for the most finishes period at 17. A well-travelled veteran of the sport, ‘do Bronx’ reached his highest peak yet when he became UFC lightweight champion at UFC 262.
For whoever wins at UFC 264, a surprise setback might just be awaiting them if they fight Charles Oliveira next. Here are three reasons why.
#3. Charles Oliveira’s mastery of submissions
The scariest thing about Charles Oliveira is that he can catch an opponent in his triangle choke from out of nowhere. Incredibly flexible, Oliveira takes advantage of his rubber-like mobility to sink in closed guard finishes. While the strategy can be high-risk, it’s also much harder to escape.
For Conor McGregor, submission holds have often been his kryptonite. Of his five losses, four have come via tapout. As gifted a striker as McGregor’s proven himself to be, his ground game leaves a lot to be desired.
While Dustin Poirier holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, his ground game is not as versatile as Oliveira’s either. ‘The Diamond’ often relies on his boxing skills and calf kicks to weaken his opponents. If Oliveira manages to take Poirier to the ground, his superior expertise would likely net him the win.
In short, both fighters would be in serious submission danger opposite ‘do Bronx’.
#2. Oliveira’s ever-evolving striking
While Oliveira’s breathtakingly quick grappling is his strongest asset, he is by no means a one-note fighter. Oliveira has consistently displayed a commitment to self-evolution. In recent years, his striking has improved leaps and bounds. His knee strikes and kick work in particular have proven to be a very effective tool in grounding his opponents.
Despite the emphasis on leg work, Oliveira’s punches can be utterly devastating as well. This was most recently displayed in his round-two TKO of Michael Chandler at UFC 262. For all of the success his grappling has earned him, it was his fists that secured the UFC lightweight title.
While Oliveira’s striking isn’t quite at the elite level of McGregor or Poirier, it’s good enough that he can more than hold his own. When one adds the rest of his skills to the mix, it becomes apparent that he’s a well-conditioned, incredibly dangerous fight for either UFC 264 main-eventer to take on.
#1. Oliveira’s creativity
Charles Oliveira’s submissions repertoire is expansive to say the least. While he has often favored the triangle choke, he has also employed variations such as the rear-naked choke, guillotine and front headlock. He’s also adept at applying crushing lower body submissions such as the leg lock and calf slicer.
Oliveira’s improvisational abilities on the mat were on full display against Eric Wisely at UFC on Fox 2 in January 2012. Grounding Wisely early in round one, it was obvious ‘do Bronx’ was moving in for a leg lock. A panicked Wisely almost managed to wriggle his left leg free of Oliveira’s grip. Sensing an escape on the rise, Oliveira retooled and, with great fluidity, locked in a wince-inducing bear trap (a.k.a. reverse calf slicer) to extract the tap.
In the nine years since, Oliveira’s instinctive ability to move with his opponents and keep the pressure on has only improved. In conjunction with his improved striking and takedowns, Oliveira can change up his style and pace at any given moment.
For McGregor and Poirier – or any potential opponent for that matter – this is one of the most dangerous qualities a fighter can possess.
Eager for anything and everything Conor McGregor ahead of UFC 264? We got you covered at SK MMA!