Lightweight champion Charles Oliveira has his next fight booked. Oliveira will face former Interim Champion Justin Gaethje in spite of speculations about Conor McGregor being the next title challenger.
In an interview for ESPN UFC President Dana White confirmed that Oliveira’s second title defense will be against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7th.
OLIVEIRA VS. GAETHJE IS ON, per UFC president Dana White. Championship fight will take place May 7, location TBD. What a fight. And Still? And New? pic.twitter.com/MJv2mMaqtK
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 26, 2022
With the addition of this fight UFC 274 is building up to become one of the best cards of the year. Another title fight is scheduled on the same night – Light-heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira will attempt his first title defense against Jiri Prochazka.
Last year was by far the best year in Charles Oliveira’s career. The brazilian won the vacant title in an epic fight against Michael Chandler in may. And at the end of 2021, Charles secured his first title defense by submitting the talented Dustin Poirier in the third round.
Justin Gaethje wasn’t as active as the champion was in 2021. After losing a title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2020, Gaethje would only fight again more than a year later when he beat Michael Chandler in an unanimous decision win that earned him another title shot.
The expectations couldn’t be higher for what is shaping up to be one of the most explosive fights of the year.
The worst possible matchup for Gaethje would be a tall fighter who can stand Justin’s pressure and even pressure him back at times; a fighter with a good kicking game to rival Gaethje’s leg kicks; and a fighter with excellent takedowns and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Oliveira is all that and more.
But, when you look the other way around, things can also look promising for the challenger.
Gaethje is one of the hardest hitters in the division, excels in cage-cutting, has a good wrestling base to defend takedowns and also has one of the most durable chins in the UFC.
Also, the Champion is not particularly the best in avoiding strikes. He has been knocked down in his last two fights and has little to none head movement.
Certainly not the best attributes when fighting Justin Gaethje given how hard he hits.
And even though Gaethje is such a hard hitter, he still holds an impressive 66% striking accuracy that could certainly mean trouble for the Brazilian Champion.
And at the same time, Gaethje’s Jiu Jitsu is leagues below Oliveira’s. To the point where it is even hard to imagine Gaethje being able to survive more than a couple minutes in the ground with the champion without getting caught.
All these factors only make the fight more intriguing, and I’m certain that every MMA fan will be on the edge of their seat waiting for these two to fight.