When it comes to the UFC Brasilia main event, there’s what you can say about the fight — and then everything else. So much went on outside of the cage in the build-up to Lee vs. Oliveira that the fight itself seemed secondary. Kevin Lee missing weight again even takes a backseat to the global pandemic that forced this event behind closed doors, held inside an arena that became cavernous in the absence of spectators.
In fact, Lee could probably be forgiven for his second flub at the scales, given the circumstances. How horrible must it be to cut weight when the world around you is gripped in fear over a spreading contagion? Of course, Lee (and presumably Charles Oliveira as well) were more than happy to fight on.
Which made UFC Brasilia the only game in town for sports fans this weekend, with every single other major sports entity postponing events.
The main event topped a night that saw just two finishes, both on the main card. Oliveira, however, had become a pure finisher inside the octagon — and he went right at Lee. Several jabs, a high kick, another kick — jumping — nothing orthodox, nothing easy to read. Lee was on the defensive in the first minute, but settled in, and returned fire with his right hand.
Just as Lee’s jab got going, Oliveira ducked under, and took Lee down. But Lee came out on top. The only problem, he had to contend with a kneebar attempt. Oliveira then sought out a rear-naked choke without his hooks in. Out of position, that allowed Lee to reverse. But the Brazilian went hunting for a heel hook. Lee, at some point, would be wise to disengage and reset on the feet, if possible. Dry and on the ground is not where he wanted to be with Oliveira. A triangle attempt came next, then a scramble that saw Lee have the back of his opponent for a millisecond.
The transitions in the opening round were a thing of beauty. And how exactly they might be scored was anyone’s guess. If nothing else, judging had been solid at UFC Brasilia, perhaps thanks to the absence of a live crowd to sway the opinions of those scoring the fight.
Lee got his hands going early in round two, only to eat a spinning back kick to the mid-section. A right hand then landed for Lee. A little bit of trading in the pocket ensued. Lee appeared hurt. Oliveira landed an uppercut. Lee was still firing back, while Oliveira was selecting his shots methodically. A desperation takedown came from Lee, who landed straight into an arm-bar attempt. The pair worked up, but Lee held onto a body lock, and the American took Oliveira right back down. The key here was recovery time for Kevin Lee. Not to mention control time, as there was still two minutes remaining in the frame.
While Lee had to contend with submission attempts and strikes from the bottom, he finished the second round a lot better than he started it.
A jumping front kick from Oliveira started the third. After a bit of trading Lee made a critical mistake, taking Oliveira down and giving up his neck. The guillotine ensued. A clear tap followed — but Lee protested the stoppage regardless, until ref Mike Beltran advised him to “watch the tape.”
JUST THAT QUICKLY! 👀
— UFC (@ufc) March 15, 2020
With the win, Charles Oliveira earned his seventh straight win — and seventh straight finish. In any other division, that would be enough to land him a title fight. But should Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson take place as scheduled next month, there’s still the likes of Dan Hooker, Connor McGregor, and Justin Gaethje stalking the lightweight division.
So while Oliveira will be in attendance at UFC 249 (he said as much post-fight), he may be little more than a curious onlooker. Unfortunately.
Official Result: Charles Oliveira def. Kevin Lee by submission (guillotine choke), Round 3, 0:28