Charles Oliveira is the only “undisputed champ” that is, in reality, very much disputed within the fight community. Ever since Khabib retired after defending his belt for the third time against Justin Gaethje, the lightweight division has been in a state of muddy disarray. Dustin Poirier, highly regarded as the #1 lightweight upon Khabib’s departure, was offered a title shot against Oliveira, but chose the money fight against Conor McGregor instead. That risk paid off, and we are left with one question: is Dustin Poirier the best lightweight as consensus would have it, or has Charles Oliveira been overlooked and underrated since beating Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight title in May of this year?
Poirier vs. Oliveira will be the most experienced title fight in UFC history, taking that claim away from Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson when they fought for the middleweight title in 2016. Between the two of them, they have over 22 years of UFC experience and have amassed a combined record of 39-13-2. Their career trajectories have been quite similar as well, both beginning their UFC careers as featherweights (145-pound) but rising to prominence as lightweights (155-pound), and both obtaining their first opportunities for UFC gold over 10 years into their UFC careers. Over a decade of hard work is on the line for each of these battle-tested warriors, and tonight we have the highly anticipated matchup to settle the dispute of who the “real” lightweight king is.
Keys to Victory: Oliveira
Start fast and go for the finish early. With 31 wins on his record and only 3 decisions, most fight fans would consider Oliveira the more “dangerous” opponent, even if he is less likely to win the fight, according to Vegas. “Charlie Olives” is no slouch on the feet, but with the most submissions in UFC history, his greatest advantage against Poirier will be on the ground. Poirier is a distinguished black belt in jiu jitsu as well, but Oliveira has very few peers in that department. However, Poirier has a reputation of getting better as the fight goes on. Plus, submissions get more difficult the sweatier each man gets. The deeper we get into the championship rounds, the better it looks for Dustin.
Keys to Victory: Poirier
Stay composed and drag the fight on as long as possible. Poirier has more “championship rounds” experience than Oliveira, and some of his brightest shining moments take place there. No one has ever questioned “the dog” in Poirier, and the same can’t be said for Oliveira, though fewer and fewer fight fans are questioning “the dog” in him over the past few years on his 9-fight win streak as well. Poirier is one to never quit, and gets better as the times get tougher. As long as he doesn’t make a mistake and get caught early, he will wear on Charles Oliveira with better boxing and good takedown defense, and either get a late round TKO or decision victory.
Official Prediction: Oliveira by 1st Round Submission
Charles Oliveira has the most finishes (knockouts + submissions) in UFC history, and he finishes his opponents in a variety of ways. Since defeating Conor McGregor back-to-back times earlier this year, Poirier has become somewhat of a celebrity. He’s selling hot sauce. He’s starting other business ventures. Oliveira has been single-mindedly focused on defending his belt. His standup is underrated. His ground game is second to none. He is being criminally underestimated. I see him stunning Poirier on the feet, shooting in for the takedown, and locking in a submission before Poirier can retain his bearings, shocking the MMA world in less time than it takes to microwave a freshly bought Lean Cuisine lasagna.