Saturday’s UFC 274 event has had a seismic change of events. The card was supposed to be headlined by a lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, but Oliveira missed weight on Friday. As a result, Oliveira has been stripped of the title. Gaethje can still win the title if he beats Oliveira on Saturday, but Oliveira cannot win the title. The title will remain vacant if Oliveira wins.
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- Charles Oliveira To Win By KO/TKO/DQ (+650)
- Charles Oliveira To Win By Submission (+120)
- Charles Oliveira To Win By Decision (+550)
- Justin Gaethje To Win By KO/TKO/DQ (+200)
- Justin Gaethje To Win By Submission (+2800)
- Justin Gaethje To Win By Decision (+1000)
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Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje
Charles Oliveira has not lost a fight since December 2017, going a perfect 10-0 with nine finishes over that stretch. The only fight Oliveira failed to finish over that span was against Tony Ferguson, but Oliveira thoroughly dominated Ferguson and had him in positions that would have finished most other opponents, including a fully-extended armbar that Ferguson refused to tap to. Ferguson ended up getting bailed out by the round ending, and more time on the clock could have resulted in a finish given how deep the hold was locked in. Oliveira is not far off from finishing 10 straight fights, which is amazing.
Oliveira holds the record for most finishes in UFC history with 18. Oliveira has gone to decision just three times in 29 total UFC fights and has finished about 90% of his UFC wins. Oliveira also holds the record for most wins via submission in UFC history with 15. Oliveira is a BJJ black belt and uses his jiu jitsu for potent offense, actively hunting submissions during his fights, even when he has his opponent hurt from strikes.
Oliveira has also developed good striking. Oliveira showcased his striking progression in his title fight win over Michael Chandler—Oliveira landed a beautiful left hook that stunned Chandler and set up the finishing combination to win the title.
Justin Gaethje is one of the most aggressive and entertaining fighters in the UFC, largely because he enjoys trading punches. This was best on display in Gaethje’s most recent fight against Michael Chandler, where the two traded haymakers over the course of 15 minutes.
In the Chandler brawl, Gaethje landed nearly eight significant strikes per minute and absorbed roughly seven significant strikes per minute, both of which are extremely high numbers. This is basically vintage Gaethje—heavy volume, both on the landing side and absorbing side. Overall, Gaethje is landing about 7.5 significant strikes per minute in the UFC, an extremely fast striking pace. Because of his style, Gaethje has also absorbed a ton of strikes, absorbing roughly eight significant strikes per minute, one of the highest numbers you’ll see among title contenders.
As a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, Gaethje has a strong wrestling background, but he does not use his wrestling for offense. Gaethje has not recorded a single takedown in any of his UFC fights and has officially attempted just one takedown in nine UFC fights. Combined with Oliveira’s dangerous bottom game, this makes it likely that the fight will primarily take place on the feet and become a striking match.
Oliveira’s weight cutting issues presents uncertainty as to how he will look, but if he is his usual self, Gaethje’s aggressive style could play right into Oliveira’s finishing skills. If Gaethje is content to let Oliveira tee off on him in exchanges, Oliveira will be positioned well to win by finish (+110), either by KO/TKO or by submission on a stunned Gaethje. Gaethje can be prone to giving up his back in scrambles if the fight does hit the ground at some point, which is how Khabib Nurmagomedov secured a dominant position that led to the finish in Gaethje’s last title fight.
All three of Gaethje’s UFC losses have been finishes, so there is a good avenue for a finish, especially given how aggressively Oliveira hunts finishes.
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