Charles Oliveira is no longer the UFC lightweight champion, but he’s still the best lightweight in the world.
Oliveira failed to make weight at Friday’s official UFC 274 weigh-ins and was stripped of his 155-pound championship. Heading into Saturday’s main event, only challenger Justin Gaethje was eligible to win the title. Oliveira could only solidify himself as the No. 1 contender, and he did just that.
Oliveira hurt Gaethje with a right hand early in the opening round, but Gaethje returned fired. The two stood toe-to-toe and Gaethje connected with a left hand that knocked Oliveira down. Gaethje let the Brazilian back to his feet.
Oliveira rose to his feet and seemed to have his wits about him. Gaethje landed a counter right hand that sat Oliveira down a second time. Again, Gaethje let Oliveira back to his feet. Oliveira pulled guard, but Gaethje was having none of it and stood up out of Oliveira’s guard.
Back on their feet, Oliveira landed a straight right hand that knocked Gaethje down. Oliveira immediately punched on him and took Gaethje’s back. He briefly worked for a triangle choke and isolated an arm. Gaethje scrambled, but Oliveira transitioned and maintained his position. He locked on a rear-naked choke. Gaethje desperate fought to free himself but eventually tapped out just before losing consciousness.
“There’s something missing here,” Oliveira said referencing the championship belt. “The champion has a name, and it’s Charles Oliveira from the Bronx.”
“This is a message to the entire division. I’m a problem for the entire division. Look at this team. Look at me. I am the enlightened. I’m the champion. This is my title. It should be here,” Oliveira added.