Israel Adesanya, like most, is intrigued by the main event for Saturday’s UFC 274 fight card.
The reigning, defending UFC middleweight champion took to his YouTube channel to break down the UFC’s next pay-per-view event, which will take place in Phoenix, Ariz., with the lightweight title on the line in the headliner between Charles Oliveira and former interim champ Justin Gaethje.
Unsurprisingly, Adesanya is a fan of Gaethje’s style — most notably the performance “The Highlight” put on at UFC 249 against Tony Ferguson to capture the interim title in May 2020 — and feels the challenger has weapons that could potentially make it a long night for Oliveira.
“Gaethje’s leg kicks are definitely a key to this fight,” Adesanya said. “[In the] grappling, Gaethje can wrestle, he can scramble, I’ve seen him, but he’s not going to do that. He’s going to fight the way he fought Ferguson — just take your time, don’t rush. Gaethje hits... everybody hits hard, but Gaethje just snaps you. I still remember the way those were sounding against [Ferguson]. It was nasty.
“If [Oliveira] gets hit a lot, you can’t take too much of those. You have to be able to give it back and be able to go to war.”
Oliveira captured the title in May 2021 when he stopped Michael Chandler in the second round at UFC 262. In his first title defense, “Du Bronx” submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round in the main event of December’s UFC 269 event to retain the championship, while also extending his impressive win streak to 10 straight.
While Adesanya didn’t make an official pick, he cautions Gaethje to remain focused at all times no matter how much success he may be having against the always-dangerous lightweight champion.
“Gaethje could get slept,” Adesanya explained. “If he gets caught in something crazy in [Oliveira’s] guard, or standing up in a guillotine, he could choke Gaethje out, put him to sleep.”