Charles Oliveira might not have his title right now but there’s no doubt he’s the best lightweight in the world.
A controversial weigh-in where he came in a half-pound over the limit cost the Brazilian his championship but he still put on an incredible performance to finish Justin Gaethje in the first round in a chaotic UFC 274 main event.
There was non-stop action from the first exchange but it was a knockdown scored by Oliviera that led to him jumping on Gaethje’s back and locking on a rear naked choke submission that ended the fight. The stoppage came at 3:22 in the opening round as Oliveira wins but the UFC lightweight title remains vacant at this time.
“There’s something wrong here,” Oliveira said afterwards. “The champion’s name is Charles Oliveira. I made weight Thursday and you took my belt away. I’m a problem for the entire division. I am the champion. This is my title. It should be here.”
It was Oliveira who looked to set the tone early with a punch that blasted Gaethje and put him on wobbly legs right away but that early success backfired in a hurry. With Oliveira surging, Gaethje started snapping off calf kicks and then going back up top with his powerful punches.
That’s when Gaethje connected with a stiff right uppercut that dropped Oliveira to the canvas but former interim lightweight champion didn’t want to go to the ground with the noted submission specialist.
It was back on the feet when another hard right hook snapped Oliviera’s head around and put him back on the ground again but Gaethje still had no desire to play with fire by testing his grappling against the Brazilian.
The lightweights continued trading blows but Oliveira started to connect with better accuracy as Gaethje was winging huge, wild shots as he attempted to score the knockout. With Gaethje on his heels, Oliveira unloaded a massive straight punch that floored the Arizona native and slumped him down to the ground.
Unlike his opponent, Oliveira immediately jumped on the opportunity to go to the canvas as he quickly took the back and began looking for the finish. While Gaethje tried to slip free, Oliveira was just too quick as he eventually got control and slipped his arm under the chin to secure the submission.
Gaethje did his best to fight the hands but once Oliveira had the choke locked, there was no escape.
That’s when the tap came as Oliveira — with blood still streaming down the side of his face — jumped up to celebrate the win even if he won’t be called UFC champion for now.
Following the fight, Oliveira immediately spoke to UFC president Dana White, who told him that he’ll be the No. 1 contender and compete for the lightweight title in his next appearance regardless of the opponent, although “Do Bronx” had a suggestion.
“Hey, Dana White, you said I don’t care put anybody in front of me,” Oliveira shouted. “I’m not going to choose. Conor McGregor, are you coming up or are you going to run away?”