Two of the best young featherweights in the UFC collided last night (June 1, 2012) when former ultra-hyped prospect Charles Oliveira took on Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins on The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale main card.
Both men had been a bit undersized at 155 pounds, but had seemingly found a home at featherweight instead.
So what helped put Oliveira over the top, allowing him to fsubmit Brookins for the first time in the 26 year old's illustrious career? More importantly, where do both men go from here?
Follow me after the jump for our Charles Oliviera vs. Jonathan Brookins Ultimate Fighter Live Finale post-fight review and analysis.
They biggest key for Oliveira was pretty simple, he was just a bit better than Brookins in jut about every facet of the fight.
While both men are primarily known for their ground games, this bout started out standing for a rather considerable portion. In that realm, Oliveira showcased that he's been working on his leg kicks and his straight right hand, as he repeatedly found a home for it while standing and trading with Brookins.
After getting fed up, Brookins closed the distance and secured a takedown, but that is never always the best idea against a submission fighter of the caliber of Oliveira. From his back, "Da Bronx" utilized a very dangerous high guard and began chaining submission attempt after submission attempt at Brookins, which forced the TUF winner to consciously back up and let him to his feet again. This wasn't a good sign.
Once he was back to his feet, Oliveira continued headhunting with his right hook, and he rocked Brookins with it on a couple of occasions, but couldn't put the blonde brawler away.
Not to be completely blown out, Brookins responded and actually caught Oliveira with some nice hooks on the feet towards the end of the round as well and actually forced the Brazilian to back off and collect himself.
In the second round, after a brief stint of striking, it was Oliveira who closed the distance, ignoring a Brookins guillotine attempt and scoring a takedown. Once he got out of trouble with the guillotine, Oliveira immediately went on the offensive, batting Brookins with a few short elbows and then quickly taking advantage of an opening and attacking Brookins' exposed neck with a guillotine of his own. Once he locked that bad boy in, there was no escape and Brookins was forced to tap out.
For Jonathan Brookins, this was unfortunately a case of facing someone who was just better than him in nearly all facets of the game. The only advantage he had over Oliveira may have been wrestling, but that didn't seem as helpful as originally expected because Brookins was repeatedly put in a plethora of submissions when he put "Do Bronx" on his back. I thought Brookins stand-up looked improved in this fight, but he still needs to work on his defense as he got hit way too much. Hopefully he's not too discouraged by this loss as I still think he has some potential if he can continue to round out his game. If he can learn to harness his power on the feet, he could become a pretty lethal two-way threat.
For Charles Oliveira, this was almost a perfect fight. The only criticism I have of his game is his striking defense and his complete lack of head movement. Against a less accomplished striker like Brookins, he got away with it but if he wants to keep showcasing his improved striking abilities, he's going to find himself on the receiving end of a beatdown if he keeps leaving his chin so exposed. That being said, his right hand looked great and his submissions were as good as ever. He's now scored four submissions in his UFC career and all four have been different. He's a special talent and at just 22 years old, still has time to work on those weaknesses and shore up his game.
I think he should step up and face someone who also dropped won to featherweight and looked solid, someone like Denis Siver would make sense. Other potential opponents include the Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson winner or perhaps a battle against Javier Vazquez would be a terrific grappling exhibition.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did you expect Oliveira to overwhelm Brookins like he did? At 22 years old, can he make a run in the featherweight division? What is his ceiling in your opinion?