MMA Ratings Podcast

March 17, 2020

UFC Brasilia: What's Next For Charles Oliveira After His Big Win At the Crowdless Event

By Adam Martin

It was a historic night for the UFC. As the only show in town during a time when most professional sports leagues ceased their operations due to safety precautions related to the coronavirus, the promotion went ahead and followed through with its UFC Fight Night card in Brasilia. Despite critics saying the UFC shouldn't have held the event, it went through with the card, albeit with no crowd, leaving headliners Charles Oliveira and Kevin Lee with no live audience to compete in front of. But that didn't stop Oliveira from putting on a show for the fans watching on TV.

The winner of six straight fights heading into UFC Brasilia, Oliveira was the betting underdog against Lee, a talented, yet inconsistent fighter who was coming off of a career-best head kick KO win over Gregor Gillespie. Despite Oliveira's win streak, it was easy to point to Lee's level of competition in his recent fights and his win over Gillespie as reasons he would win the fight. But Oliveira wasn't buying that, and he defied the odds by tapping out Lee in the third with a guillotine.

The win increases Oliveira's winning streak to seven, and he's 8-1 since moving up to 155 lbs in 2017. He also increased his all-time UFC record for submission wins. Once a featherweight prospect who was criticized for his lack of durability and "quitting" during his losses, Oliveira is now a bona fide title contender in the UFC lightweight division. Beating a Top-10-ranked lightweight in Lee should move Oliveira into the near-elite territory at 155, and he's earned it.

But now the question is, what's next for Oliveira? Upcoming events from the UFC have been postponed indefinitely, so all timetables are extremely fluid with regard to when any fighter will next compete. However, it's clear that Oliveira is ready for a top opponent his next time out, even if the specific opponent is uncertain. Oliveira mentioned Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Tony Ferguson as opponents he be interested in, but odds are, he won't get any of those three fighters next. We instead need to turn to the rest of the UFC's Top 10 to see who his next opponent could be.

Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker are due to headline UFC San Diego in May, so those two are out. Justin Gaethje won't fight anyone but McGregor or the champion, so he's out. That leaves us with two other options among the fighters ranked higher than Lee was, and both are rematches.

Donald Cerrone, despite being on a losing streak, is still highly regarded at 155 lbs. Cerrone and Oliveira met back in 2011 when both guys were fairly new to the UFC, and Cerrone finished Oliveira with strikes. Nine years later, however, Oliveira would likely be favored to beat Cerrone. Oliveira vs. Cerrone 2 would make for a fun rematch between two talented fighters.

The other potential rematch would be against Paul Felder, who was the last man to defeat Oliveira, back in 2017 at UFC 218. Felder was able to finish Oliveira with strikes the first time they fought, but three years later it could be a very different fight. With Oliveira on such an incredible win streak and Felder coming off of a razor-thin loss to Hooker in an amazing fight, this would be a good time for these two to rematch. Neither man is ever in a boring fight, and it's a fight that makes sense based on the rankings.

But regardless of who Charles Oliveira faces next, it's clear that he is a fighter who has improved and evolved his game over the last few years. At lightweight, he looks stronger, faster, and more confident. His ground game is as potent as ever, and his standup is much improved, which makes Oliveira a highly-dangerous fighter for anyone who stands across the cage from him. Beating Kevin Lee delivered the performance Oliveira needed to break through, and next time out he should show what he's made of against an elite lightweight.

UFC Brasilia
Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira: Charles Oliveira def. Kevin Lee via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:28 of Round 3.

UFC Fight Night Brasilia: Lee vs. Oliveira took place March 14, 2020 at Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.

Click HERE for more UFC Brasilia Post-Fight Analysis

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