By Charlie Erdman
On May 7th of this year, the UFC will host the highly anticipated pay-per-view event UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona at the Footprint Center. Headlining the action is the stacked lightweight division’s championship fight between current champ Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira and number one ranked contender Justin “the Highlight” Gaethje. A dynamic matchup in the lightweight division which pins two of the most dangerous men on earth against one another for UFC glory. Oliveira is coming off his incredible title defense over Dustin Poirier, where he submitted the former in a highly skilled and unforgettable fight. After a rough start to his UFC career, Oliveira has beaten the odds and usurped all expectations to become the current lightweight champ of the UFC.
Charles Oliveira is currently on an incredible 10 fight win streak with nine wins coming by finish (3 via KO/TKO & 6 via submission). During this win streak, Charles has beaten the likes of MMA legends Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Tony Ferguson, and Michael Chandler. This win streak has not only revitalized his career but it’s also put Charles’ name and story on the map. After defeating Micheal Chandler to capture lightweight supremacy, Charles jumped out of the octagon in ecstasy. He ran over to the UFC broadcast booth and shouted “A favela ganhou!” This translates to “The Favela has won!” A favela is a low-income neighborhood in a city and in Charles’ home of Brazil, favelas can be very dangerous and immensely impoverished. Charles’ nickname “do Bronx” is Brazilian slang used to refer to someone who is “of the favela”. Charles chose this name because it serves as a source of pride and it provides honor to the place he grew up in. Oliveira still lives near the favela he grew up in, Vicente de Carvalho, Brazil. He has stated that he feels good still living where he grew up and it speaks volumes about Charles’ authenticity and character. In an ESPN interview, Charles expressed why he has stayed near his favela, “You have to be with who you feel good with, no matter who you are, how much [money] you are going to have, who you are going to be. I know where I came from and I know where I want to go, but it is not because I want to go far that I have to get away from my origins.”
With his love of country and community, Charles has scraped the rough start he had to his UFC career and has solidified himself as one of the top pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world. Seeking to defend his belt for the second time, Oliveira looks to use his mastery of brazilian jiu jitsu and his lethal muay thai to defeat the always dangerous Justin Gaethje at UFC 274.
On the other side, Justin “the Highlight” Gaethje comes into this title bout fresh off his UFC 268 Fight of the Year against Micheal Chandler at Madison Square Garden. Gaethje is renowned for his chaotic and violent style. He uses the gladiator mentality “Kill or be Killed” to brutalize his opponents with agonizing leg kicks and a ruthless pace.
Fighting out of Denver, Colorado, Gaethje is originally from Arizona where UFC 274 will take place. He hopes to use this ‘home-field advantage’ to defeat Oliveira as the underdog heading into Saturday night. Gaethje isn’t shy of confidence going into the bout, recently stating in a Sports Illustrated interview, “I’m going to knock a hole right in his face… I’m not here to play mind games or talk s—.” After defeating Micheal Chandler in their FOTY war at MSG, Gaethje secured his spot as the number one contender in the lightweight division. With this win renewing him with another title shot, Gaethje will look to bring his violent style to Oliveira and capture the undisputed lightweight strap this Saturday night at UFC 274.
The action will take place on ESPN+ and ESPN+ Pay-Per-View. The early preliminary card begins at 2:30 pm PT, the preliminary card begins at 5 pm PT, and the main card will begin at 7 pm PT.