Phoenix, AZ — Weight controversy aside, Charles Oliveira had a successful night at UFC 274. Perhaps even better than expected.
Many looked past Oliveira’s determination and heart in the face of adversity. Opponent Justin Gaethje almost certainly did, referencing the now-former lightweight champion’s history of “quitting” during fights throughout UFC 274’s Fight Week.
Oliveira (33-8, 1NC) didn’t quit on Saturday. Instead, even after being knocked down twice by Gaethje, he pulled off the submission win — all within the opening round.
As “Do Bronx” later put it, speaking via translator to media outlets including Cageside Press, he’s a “lion among lions,” and one that is particularly hard to kill.
“I’m a dreamer, I’m a dreaming boy, ever since I was a little kid. My mother used to say, ‘you don’t want a Beetle, you want a Ferrari,'” Oliveira said, back stage at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. “I started saying that I was a boy among lions. And now, I’m a lion amongst other lions. And I’m a pretty tough freaking lion. I’m one that you’re going to have a hard time killing. The goals were always out there. Just to be a lion among lions.”
He proved tough to kill Saturday, and Gaethje certainly gave it his best, loading up on every punch. But as Oliveira noted, “we always work on submissions.”
“The legacy of submissions as well, it’s still going, meaning the work the team put in has really paid off. It just goes to show that the champ has a name, and it’s Charles Oliveira.” That name also happens to hold the UFC’s submissions record, which he extended to 16 with his rear-naked choke on Gaethje.
As far as the weight controversy is concerned, there isn’t one in Oliveira’s eyes it seems. “We were all sure that we actually made weight on Thursday. It’s in our hands, they’re just not going to take that away from this. I went into the octagon today to defend my title. We’re going to defend the title, I don’t have to get it back,” Oliveira stated. “The name of the champion is Charles Oliveira, we all know that.”
That may be. But after missing weight on the official scale Friday by a half pound, Oliveira was nevertheless stripped of the lightweight title. Numerous fighters later blamed a backstage scale that had not been properly calibrated, but the end result was the same. Oliveira will now be paired with a fresh face to fight for the vacant belt.
As to who, Oliveira has suggested a certain Irish star in the past, and did again Saturday. But ultimately, he’s willing to let the promotion decide.
“I said upstairs that Conor McGregor would be a good fight. But you know when I was ranked seventh in the rankings, I talked to all these guys, I called them all out, and none of them paid attention to me. So let the matchmakers do their thing, let my team actually choose, and the name of the champ is Charles Oliveira. Let them struggle to fight me.”
Watch the full UFC 274 post-fight press conference appearance by Charles Oliveira above. More coverage from the event can be found below.