Charles Oliveira, the easy successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov, will be present at UFC 264. In the Main Event, two of the division’s biggest stars, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, will compete against each other in a highly anticipated trilogy showdown. The winner will likely be Oliveira’s first challenger.
Right now, all eyes are on UFC 264. Oliveira has felt like a thought lately as many pundits have turned down his chances of a long reign at the top. Swept under the carpet while everyone is focused on “The Diamond” and “Mystic Mac”, is Charles Oliveira actually a lot more dangerous than you think he is?
Charles Oliveira holds the record for most submissions in UFC history at 14. In addition, at 17, he also holds the record for most submissions. A well-traveled veteran of the sport, ‘do Bronx’ peaked when he became the UFC Lightweight Champion at UFC 262.
Whoever wins at UFC 264 could expect a surprising setback when they next fight Charles Oliveira. Here are three reasons for that.
# 3. Charles Oliveira’s mastery of submissions
The scariest thing about Charles Oliveira is that he can catch an opponent in his triangle choke out of nowhere. Incredibly flexible, Oliveira uses its rubbery mobility to sink into closed guard finishes. While the strategy can be high risk, it’s also much harder to escape.
For Conor McGregor, submission holds were often his kryptonite. Of his five defeats, four came from Tapout. As talented a striker, as McGregor has proven, his ground play leaves a lot to be desired.
While Dustin Poirier wears a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, his floor game isn’t as versatile as Oliveira’s. ‘The Diamond’ often relies on his boxing skills and calf kicks to weaken his opponents. If Oliveira manages to bring Poirier to the ground, his superior expertise would likely earn him the win.
In short, both fighters would be in serious submission risk to ‘do Bronx’.
# 2. Oliveira’s ever-evolving striker
While Oliveira’s mind-boggling fast grappling is his greatest strength, he’s by no means a one-note fighter. Oliveira has consistently committed to self-development. In recent years his stroke has improved by leaps and bounds. His knees and kicks in particular have proven to be a very effective tool for grounding his opponents.
Despite the emphasis on footwork, Oliveira’s punches can also be extremely devastating. This was last shown in his second round TKO by Michael Chandler at UFC 262. With all the success his grappling has brought him, it was his fists that secured the UFC lightweight title.
While Oliveira’s punch isn’t quite the elite level of McGregor or Poirier, it’s good enough that it can more than hold its own. Add the rest of his skills to it and it becomes clear that he is a well conditioned, incredibly dangerous fight for one of the UFC 264 main eventers.
#1. Oliveira’s creativity
Charles Oliveira’s repertoire is extensive, to say the least. While he has often preferred the triangle choke, he has also used variations such as the rear-naked choke, the guillotine, and the front headlock. He is also adept at using crushing lower body exercises like the leg lock and the calf trimmer.
Oliveira’s improvisational skills on the mat came to the fore in January 2012 at UFC on Fox 2 against Eric Wisely. A panicked Wisely almost managed to free his left leg from Oliveira’s grip. Sensing an escape on the rise, Oliveira retooled, and with great suppleness, locked her in a twitching bear trap (also known as an inverted veal cutter) to pull out the faucet.
In the nine years since then, Oliveira’s instinctive ability to move around with his opponents and maintain the pressure has only improved. In conjunction with his improved strokes and takedowns, Oliveira can change his style and pace at any time.
For McGregor and Poirier – or any possible opponent – this is one of the most dangerous qualities a fighter can possess.
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