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UFC Brasilia preview: A decade after his Octagon debut, Charles Oliveira is finally ready for title contention

UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz v Jacare Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight veteran, Charles Oliveira, has been competing inside the Octagon for nearly a decade, having made his promotion debut at UFC on Versus 2 way back in August 2010. That particular mixed martial arts (MMA) card was headlined by then-light heavyweight contender, Jon Jones, and venerable “Janitor,” Vladimir Matyushenko.

“Do Bronx” defeated Nik Lentz by way of submission.

At the time of Oliveira’s debut, Frankie Edgar was lightweight champion of the world after unseating BJ Penn at UFC 112, and in a statistic I found rather surprising, remains the only fighter from the Top 10 rankings of that era who is still employed by UFC.

Kenny Florian, Gray Maynard, and Sean Sherk have long since retired.

Working in Oliveira’s favor is the fact that he was just 20 years old at the time. Now at age 30 and clearly in his prime, the Brazilian will have a chance to make good on the hype surrounding his once (and still) promising career. He’s halfway there, thanks to a wicked six-fight win streak with six nasty finishes.

No wonder nobody wanted to fight him.

“Nobody wants to fight me, especially knowing how good I’m looking now,” Oliveira recently told MMA Fighting. “When Kevin Lee’s name was brought up, I told everyone I thought this fight would happen. It surprised me because nobody wants to fight in Brazil. They know what it’s like, but he’s a tough fighter and knows this is a big opportunity in the UFC.”

Oliveira is ranked No. 13 against No. 8 for Lee.

They’ll collide in the upcoming UFC Fight Night 170 five-round main event, airing exclusively on ESPN+ this Sat. night (March 14, 2020) inside Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil. And with division champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, running out of lightweight contenders, the winner of Lee vs. Oliveira could be very easily be in the mix by the end of 2020.

In fact, “Do Bronx” is counting on it.

“I’m on a roll now,” he said. “I want to become champion and I’ll definitely beat Kevin Lee. I’m going there to put on a show and prove to the world I’m ready. I’ll be the title contender by the end of the year. There’s no denying it. 2020 will be great for me.”

Oliveira (28-8, 1 NC) has a staggering 26 finishes in 28 wins with 18 of those coming by way of submission. To put that in perspective, the Brazilian has as many submissions as Lee does total wins, utilizing everything from an anaconda choke to a calf slicer.

Just don’t expect “The Motown Phenom” to roll over.

“I do like to play spoiler,” Lee (18-5) told MMA Junkie. “I’m going to make sure I shut up all them Brazilians, and that arena gonna be real, real quiet at the end of the night, and sometimes that’s what I like to do. I like to steal a little bit of thunder. I feel like I shut down Madison Square Garden in my last fight. This one, I’m going to shut down this arena, too.”

He doesn’t have to, coronavirus did it for him.

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