Charles Oliveira (bottom) slices through the calf of Eric Wisely during UFC on Fox 2 at the United Center last January. Photo by Mike Dinovo via US PRESSWIRE.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 145-pound prospect, Charles Oliveira, fights fellow finisher Cub Swanson this Saturday night (Sept. 22, 2012) as part of the UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, which is set to take place at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.
The world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is looking to start UFC 152 with a bang as these two warriors open up the first PPV card in over a month in what is expected to be a "Fight of the Night" candidate. In this analysis, I'll be looking deeper into the game of one of the featherweight division's brightest prospects to see if the hype is justified.
How will Oliveira's skills stack up when examined closely?
Find out after the jump.
Known as a submission fighter, Oliveira's striking has grown leaps and bounds throughout his UFC career. While he still isn't a one punch knockout artist, Charles has forced his opponents to respect his Muay Thai.
Oliveira's striking revolves around basic boxing coupled with sharp kicks and knees. What he lacks in technique, he makes up for in aggression and pure athleticism. Utilizing his long reach, Oliveira attacks at range first with kicks to the head and legs, teep kicks, or a flying knee.
After damaging his opponent and slowing them down, Oliveira charges in with a powerful punch often followed by two or three more. Mixing in straight lefts with aggressive hooks and overhands, Oliveira stalks his opponent and doesn't give them room to breathe. His constant attack and pressure is what helped set up most of his submissions, including those over Jonathan Brookins, Eric Wisely, and Efrain Escudero.
Oliveira's kickboxing style is not very technically sound from a defensive standpoint and has left him open to counter attacks. Experienced kickboxer Donald Cerrone tore apart Oliveira's weak defense for an early technical knockout (TKO) victory and even Brookins, a notoriously inept striker, managed to land a few hooks in between getting dominated.
Despite growing up in Brazil and never having wrestled in high school or college, Oliveira has a surprising powerful offensive wrestling game. Similar to his striking, what he lacks in technique he makes up for with athleticism. His clinch takedowns and trips are very effective, as are his shots from the outside. Regardless of how he begins the takedown, it generally ends with a slam. His takedown defense has been solid, with his incredible guard proving to be a very effective deterrent.
With nine submissions wins in his 16 MMA victories, it's safe to say that Oliveira is a threat when the fight hits the mat. Unlike the rest of his MMA game, in this area Charles' technique exceeds his athleticism. Although he only recently received his black belt from Jorge Patino, Charles is already well known for his dynamic guard, rarely used submissions and exciting scrambles.
Perhaps his most rare submission came over Eric Wisely last January on UFC on Fox 2.
The submission began when Oliveira sat back for a heel hook. The very scrappy Wisely rolled away from Oliveira, so Charles attempted to hyper extend the knee with a knee bar. Unable to lock that submission up, Charles puts his shin behind Wisely's kneecap and traps his foot in between his own and his groin. Oliveira then reaches around Wisely and pulls him on top of himself, putting extreme pressure on Wisely's kneecap. As you can see, Eric is in a lot of pain and his knee cap would have suffered serious damage if he didn't tap.
Oliveira's most recent submission is still quite rare, but not unheard of in MMA. After being taken down, Brookins made the mistake of leaving his neck out while he attempted to wall-walk back to his feet. When he did this, Charles slid his arm under the neck and through the outside arm. Oliveira next grabbed his own bicep in a rear naked choke grip, and squeezed to finish the anaconda choke from full guard.
A couple more pictures of Oliveira's top notch grappling:
Like the rest of his MMA game, Charles' aggression can work against him. While throwing up half a dozen submission attempts at Jim Miller, he forgot to defend his feet. This allowed Miller to drop back and grab a twisting foot lock, then switch to the fight ending kneebar.
Athleticism and Talent
Oliveira's athleticism is largely responsible for the amount of success he's had in the UFC. Outside of his phenomenal jiu-jitsu, Oliveira's technique is nothing spectacular. When his basic techniques are fueled by his explosiveness, an incredibly dangerous fighter shows up.
Oliveira has a knack for finding opportunities to finish, both on the feet and on the ground, which is extremely rare. When Charles sees an opening, he charges for it with a passion like few others. While this has caused him to have defensive liabilities, it has also made him one of the UFC's most dangerous young prospects and a feared finisher.
How will his fight unfold in Toronto?