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Although Charles Oliveira missed weight by 0.5 pounds, it didn’t stop him from once again proving he’s one of the most dangerous fighters in the UFC during Saturday’s main event against Justin Gaethje. Surviving a ferocious onslaught from Gaethje, which led to two quick knockdowns on the former champion, Oliveira recovered to a thrilling finish a few minutes later.
Oliveira went punch-for-punch with Gaethje, one of the most explosive fighters in the lightweight division, and delivered his own crushing blow leading to a quick drop on the octagon canvas. Soon after, Oliveira went into his renowned submission prowess. It ended with Gaethje wrapped up in a choke hold from Oliveira, leading to a tap-out in the first round.
Oliveira did not have the championship belt placed around his waist afterwards by UFC President Dana White due to him missing the weight limit. It was a controversial moment during the lead-up to UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona. With Oliveira once again proving he’s one of the most dominant fighters in his division, another title fight to regain his crown officially will soon be in store.
The question is, who makes sense as the next opponent to square off with Oliveira for the UFC Lightweight Championship?
“It was I expected. It was what you expected. It was what we all expected,” White said after UFC 274’s conclusion of Oliveira vs. Gaethje. “Two seriously bad dudes going at it, and Oliveira proved tonight he’s the best man. He really is.”
“It’s a nightmare,” White said of Oliveira not being champion due to his weight issue. “We were just talking about it in the back there, we have this issue where guys come out and start checking the scale the night before. All the Europeans and guys from other parts of the world do kilos, so they all start (expletive) with the scale to look at kilos. Who knows, there’s so many moving parts to this beast of a machine we run every week. We gotta have a security guard in there where the scale is now. You know, it’s something we’re going to have to do.”
Even with the sketchy status of the title right now with the weight snafu with Oliveira, White confirmed on Saturday that the main event winner will 100 percent be in the next title fight. Oliveira has earned that right, and his beatdown on Gaethje in Phoenix was his latest shining example.
Who makes sense to go up against Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title? Islam Makhachev is the one many fight fans are clamoring to see go up against Oliveira. UFC commentator Joe Rogan brought up the possibility of Oliveira vs. Makhachev following the main event finish. Winner of his last 10 fights, Makhachev has the best case amongst a loaded class of lightweight contenders.
Oliveira left Phoenix without the championship, but it’s known he’s the guy in the division. Whoever lines up across from Oliveira next, the intrigue is going to deliver on plenty of levels.