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Rivalries: Charles Oliveira


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Charles Oliveira gets another chance at validation in a post-Khabib Nurmagomedov world when he defends the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown against Dustin Poirier in the UFC 269 headliner on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Oliveira enters the cage on the strength of a nine-fight winning streak. He last appeared at UFC 262, where he put away three-time Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler with punches in the second round of their May 15 pairing and laid claim to the vacant lightweight title. Oliveira, 32, has delivered 28 of his 31 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission. The longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt last tasted defeat in 2017.

As Oliveira makes final preparations for his forthcoming battle with Poirier, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape his career to this point:

Jim Miller


“A-10” was at the peak of his powers when he submitted the previously unbeaten Oliveira with a kneebar in the first round of their UFC 124 lightweight showcase on Dec. 11, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Having entered the Octagon with a perfect 14-0 record, the Brazilian conceded defeat 1:59 into Round 1. Miller walked through three early head kicks, took, the fight the mat and defended a variety of submission attempts from the 21-year-old prospect. The two lightweights went for dueling leg locks, but Miller cranked his kneebar in a blink and solicited a quick tapout from Oliveira, who winced in visible pain as his leg was torqued in the wrong direction. When they met again some eight years later at UFC on Fox 31, the result was quite different: Oliveira needed just 75 seconds to submit the aging New Jersey native with a rear-naked choke.

Frankie Edgar


The former lightweight champion registered his first win at 145 pounds, as he captured a unanimous verdict from Oliveira in the UFC 162 co-main event on July 6, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Edgar swept the scorecards by 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 counts. “The Answer” stayed a step ahead of Oliveira with excellent footwork and quick, accurate punching combinations. The Macaco Gold Team representative had his moments—he grabbed a tight guillotine choke at the end of the second round—but they were too few and far between to factor into the math. Edgar staggered Oliveira with right hands in the first and third rounds, all while keeping him off-balance with clinches, timely takedowns and ground-and-pound.

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Nik Lentz


A surging Oliveira submitted the American Top Team export with a guillotine choke in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 67 co-headliner on May 30, 2015 at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil. Nearly four years after their initial encounter at UFC Live 4 resulted in a no-contest, Lentz raised the white flag 1:10 into Round 3. The rematch did not disappoint. Oliveira walked through the American’s punches in a frenetic first frame—it went down as one of the very best rounds of the year—and folded him with a crushing knee strike to the body. He assumed top position, passed the Lentz guard, landed another knee to the ribs and let loose with punches and elbows before achieving full mount. Lentz bounced back with a strong Round 2, where he grounded the Macaco Gold Team standout, navigated the gifted Brazilian’s guard and kept the action where he wanted it. However, his good work came with a price. A weary and diminished Lentz emerged for the third round, and Oliveira capitalized. “Do Bronx” followed another knee to the body with a no-arm guillotine, as he jumped into full guard, rolled into a mounted position and forced the tapout. They faced one another for a third time at UFC Fight Night 152 in May 2019, but by then, their careers were on decidedly different trajectories. Oliveira wiped out “The Carny” with punches 2:11 into the second round.

Paul Felder


“The Irish Dragon” had too much horsepower for the still-developing Oliveira, as he dispatched the submission savant with a volley of ground-and-pound elbows in the second round of their featured UFC 218 prelim on Dec. 2, 2017 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Felder brought it to a close 4:06 into Round 2, though it was far from easy. A replacement for the injured Al Iaquinta, Oliveira executed a takedown inside the first 30 seconds, bit down on a brabo choke and had the Roufusport representative in serious trouble. Felder withstood his advances, only to wander into more peril on his feet. There, Oliveira jumped to his back and threatened with a standing rear-naked choke. Again, Felder survived, shook off the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and assaulted him with elbows from top position. It was a sign of things to come. Felder drove the Brazilian to the canvas in the second round, denied his bids for submissions, set up shop in top position and unleashed elbows until referee Dan Miragliotta had seen enough. Oliveira has not lost since.

Tony Ferguson


Effortless takedowns, sublime topside grappling and a near-submission spurred Oliveira to a one-sided unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 winner in the three-round UFC 256 co-feature on Dec. 12, 2020 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “Do Bronx” swept the scorecards with 30-26 marks from the judges, his stock at an all-time high. Outside of a defensive elbow strike that resulted in a cut on the Brazilian’s left eyebrow, Ferguson was a non-factor. Oliveira set the tone with an overwhelming first round, where he took down “El Cucuy,” advanced to full mount and hyperextended the Californian’s left elbow with an armbar in the waning moments. Anyone other than the notoriously tough Ferguson might have tapped. Oliveira kept his foot on the gas, executed takedowns in the second and third rounds, stymied the former interim champion at every corner and never once allowed him to sniff an opportunity to turn the tide. Advertisement
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