Charles Oliveira may have had problems on the scale Friday, but come Saturday night those were behind him as he defeated Justin Gaethje by first-round rear-naked choke at UFC 274 in Phoenix. The Brazilian, who was forced to vacate his lightweight championship after missing weight by 0.5 pounds, submitted Gaethje for his 11th straight win.
“There’s something missing here. The champion has a name and it’s Charles Oliveira,” he said after the win. “This is a message for the entire division. I’m a problem for the entire division.”
Oliveira (33-8-1) surrendered his belt one day prior, but the win against Gaethje should give him another chance to claim it again in his next fight. With wins already over No. 1 ranked contender Dustin Poirier and No. 2 Gaethje, it could come against rising star Islam Makhachev. The Dagestani, who trains alongside former pound-for-pound great Khabib Nurmagomedov, has won 10 straight bouts.
Conor McGregor, who has lost three of his last four fights, was a name brought up by Oliveira in the post-fight interview.
In the co-main, Carla Esparza claimed the UFC’s strawweight belt after defeating champion Rose Namajunas via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46). The bout saw little action — enough to prompt commentators to question who exactly deserved to win — but Esparza did just enough through takedowns and minimal striking.
Esparza has now tied Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s 10 wins as the most wins in women’s strawweight history.
(Photo: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC)