UFC 274 Betting Preview
On Saturday, May 7th, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (32-8-0 (1 N.C.)) will defend the Undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion against #1 contender and fight of the year factory Justin Gaethje (23-3-0). If their fight histories are any evidence, the crowd in Phoenix and the pay-per-view audience are in for a special fight that is not likely to see the judge’s scorecard.
Oliveira looks to defend his title for the second time and extend his winning streak to 11 on Saturday night. “Do Bronx” has finished 9 of his last 10 wins and holds the UFC records for most submission wins (15) and most finishes (18). Oliveira retained the Lightweight crown, submitting Dustin Poirier via rear-naked choke in the second round.
Gaethje is a former World Series of Fighting and Interim UFC Lightweight Champion and is always in a must-watch fight. Gaethje has seen the judge’s scorecard once over his nine-fight UFC career, earning performance bonuses in 8 of those outings. Gaethje’s last fight was a decision win over Michael Chandler in the Fight of the Year at UFC 268.
From a grappling standpoint, the story of the fight will be if Oliveria can push Gaethje backward toward the cage to attempt a takedown. Gaethje is a former Division 1 college wrestler with excellent takedown defense. Oliveria’s takedowns often happen along the cage, rather than a wrestling-style shoot. Using his greatly improved striking and forward pressure, Oliveira can force Gaethje backward toward the cage to mitigate some of Gaethje’s wrestling.
If Gaethje’s takedown defense proves impenetrable, look for Olivera to seize any opportunity to latch onto Gaethje in search of a submission. After a rough first round, Oliveira opened the second round against Poirier, shooting a takedown and driving him toward the cage. From here, Oliveira took Poiriers back and finished the fight with a standing rear-naked choke. If Oliveira can’t get the fight to the mat, he is still a threat to finish the fight by submission.
Every fight starts on its feet, however, and this is where Gaethje proves to be the biggest threat to Oliveira’s title reign. Gaethje’s striking game relies on his boxing, the incredible power in his hands, and an excellent leg-kicking game. Gaethje has won 19 of his 23 career victories via KO/TKO. Gaethje’s striking style, takedown defense, and durability have led to wild moments, exchanges, rounds, fights, and finishes.
Durability may be the deciding factor in this lightweight title fight. Both fighters have endured and overcome significant strikes and moments of trouble in recent fights. Fortunately for Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje gets hit a lot. Gaethje has absorbed 7.81 strikes per minute over his UFC career, compared to Oliveira’s 3.13 strikes absorbed per minute.
Unfortunately for Oliveira, Justin Gaethje is super durable and thrives in chaos, often landing crushing counter punches that send his opponent reeling across the octagon. Gaethje’s history under fire instills certain confidence that he’s likely to survive whatever striking offense Oliveira deploys.
Who will be the undisputed Lightweight Champion after Saturday night? We’re not sure. What we do know is that Oliveira versus Gaethje is an intriguing battle of styles and has the potential to be the fight of the year.