November 19, 2019

"Do Bronx" Bomber: Charles Oliveira Must Overcome Struggles Against Top Fighters To Be Considered A True Contender

By Raphael Garcia

Mixed martial arts is a very tough game, littered with big names that never reached the pinnacle of the sport. Getting to a point in your career to challenge for a UFC title is difficult enough, let alone having that belt strapped around your waist. This past Saturday at UFC Sao Paulo, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira took the opportunity after his victory to call for a title shot against UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. But looking at Oliveira’s resume, it’s difficult to see how he could deserve such an opportunity, or even reach that point, as long as struggles against the upper echelon of fighters continue to plague his otherwise stellar MMA career.

Oliveira needed less than two minutes to dispatch an overmatched Jared Gordon on Saturday night. But who is Gordon? Great question. He’s 3-3 in his UFC tenure, which includes a 1-3 record in his last four fights. With this stoppage loss, Gordon may be on his way out of the UFC. He’s exactly the type of fighter that a 28-8 competitor like Oliveira should defeat, and to his credit, Oliveira typically does beat those types of fighters. But he continues to struggle when he needs a high-level performance against an elite fighter.


Oliveira’s resume includes wins over the likes of Nik Lentz, Jim Miller, Clay Guida, Will Brooks, and Myles Jury. The most accomplished name on his ledger is probably Jeremy Stephens, currently a Top 10 featherweight. But it’s not the wins that stand out the most when considering whether Oliveira can get to title contention; it’s the losses that need a closer review. Paul Felder, Ricardo Lamas, Anthony Pettis, Max Holloway, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, and Cub Swanson all have wins over Oliveira. Everyone on that list outside of Felder has challenged for or held a title in either the UFC or WEC. And Oliveira lost convincingly to every one –- Edgar is the only one to not finish him. When the stakes have been highest for him, Oliveira has struggled to cash in. His track record against contenders gives one pause when it comes to thinking of him as a real contender at lightweight.


The UFC's promotional rankings currently have him as a Top 15 contender in the division, but it’s hard to see a clear path to a title shot for him. Three of the men ranked ahead of him have already defeated him. The top fighters are all jockeying for bigger matches and larger paydays. Dan Hooker and Kevin Lee are two higher-ranked opponents who are in similar position -- perhaps the UFC would look to book him against one of them. Fighting dangerous prospects ranked below him, the approach Kevin Lee has chosen to pursue, won't get him anywhere close to his goal of fighting for the belt; he has to get through someone near the top of the rankings if he’s going to show that he has found a way to overcome the limitations that have kept him from breaking into the upper echelon. But getting the opportunity to do so is easier said than done.

Charles Oliveria has put together a fantastic run in the UFC. And with a current six-fight win streak with six stoppages, it’s easy to look at him as a contender in the 155-pound division. That is, until you look at his track record against the best fighters he has faced. He may yet find himself in the title picture, but until he can prove that he can get it done against elite opposition, he'll always be at the edge of the frame, slightly out of focus.

UFC on ESPN+ 22
Jared Gordon vs. Charles Oliveira: Charles Oliveira def. Jared Gordon via KO (punches) at 1:26 of Round 1.

UFC on ESPN+ 22: Błachowicz vs. Jacaré took place November 16, 2019 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 22 Post-Fight Analysis


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