In the main event of UFC 274 the lightweight title is on the line. The undisputed champion Charles Oliveira (32-8, 1 NC) will look to defend his title for the second time as he takes on “The Highlight” Justin Gaethje (23-3).
Last time we saw Gaethje was back at UFC 268 when he fought Michael Chandler. The two men went to war and Gaethje was able to win a decision that earned him this title shot. That win came on the heels of his title loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Overall, Gaethje is 5-1 in his last six and 6-3 in his nine UFC appearances. He’s been an interim champion, however, he’s never been able to capture undisputed gold and he will look to do that tomorrow night.
For years, Charles Oliveira was looked at as a guy with some of the best talent in the UFC. However, he could never quite put it together. He fought at featherweight, but found a permanent home at lightweight where he’s become the best in the world.
After having an average career to start, Charles Oliveira has really taken off. Entering UFC 274, Oliveira is on a ten-fight winning streak where only one opponent survived to hear the judges scorecards.
UFC 274 Prediction
The narrative that Charles Oliveira is a quitter or is weak mentally is drastically overplayed at this point. Early on in his UFC career, we saw Oliveira mentally break at times. However, he’s shown he’s not that same guy anymore.
That said, that’s the narrative that Justin Gaethje is pushing. Gaethje said that he wants to bring the quit out of Oliveira at UFC 274. Well, how can he do that? He can do that with big power punches and ungodly leg kicks.
I expect Gaethje to immediately look for openings with leg kicks. However, he’s going to have to be very careful as the champion has very good takedowns and is the better grappler by a significant margin.
Oliveira showed at UFC 269 against Dustin Poirier that he can strike with the best of them. He also showed that he can take huge shots and keep coming. He also showed that against Michael Chandler.
Oliveira is the more well-rounded fighter here and I think that plays a big role in the fight. If Justin Gaethje is going to win, he’s going to have to knock Oliveira out. However, I can see a scenario where Oliveira wins by decision, submission, or knockout.
Ultimately, I think Oliveira gets the fight down in the second round. During a scramble, I think he gets the back of Justin Gaethje and finds a rear naked choke to retain his lightweight title.
Prediction: Charles Oliveira by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 2