Bronx Science: At UFC Fight Night 67, Charles Oliveira Aims To Show He Has Found the Formula For Success

By Raphael Garcia

The UFC featherweight division has emerged as one of the most important divisions in mixed martial arts. Whether that is linked to the rise of a certain Irishman in Conor McGregor or Jose Aldo’s continued dominance, this has become one of the more intriguing weight classes around. Even beyond the two men who will do battle in the UFC 189 main event, there are a plethora of competitors who offer intriguing fights whenever they step into the cage. Charles Oliveira is one such athlete, and although he has been a forgotten man as of late, he has a chance to change that situation at UFC Fight Night 67.

Currently ranked in the division’s Top 10, “Do Bronx” last appeared in the cage a little over five months ago at the TUF 20 Finale. His win over Jeremy Stephens capped off his current three-fight win streak. During this streak, the Brazilian competitor has wowed both fans and media experts with the way he has continued to improve. It is that improvement that makes him an interesting topic of discussion when talking about the future of the division.

Oliveira is much better than his 7-4 (1 NC) Octagon record. Even though he started off with two wins, two losses, and one No Contest at lightweight, dropping down to featherweight has proven to be the catalyst for this latest push to stardom. Yes, he has been defeated while at 145 — to longtime contenders Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson — but he has looked much better since both of those losses. And even in defeat to the perennial pound-for-pound great Edgar, Oliveira looked much improved, and even took a round from the former lightweight champion.

His upcoming bout against Nik Lentz is an opportunity to seriously establish himself. When the two men fought at lightweight, Oliveira proved he could handle the pressure that Lentz brought. He was winning the fight up until the illegal blow that stopped the action. His performance this weekend should open the door to conversation about how he will fare when he is next matched against the top contenders in the division – as long as he can secure another win.

Oliveira offers an intriguing mix of technical striking and a willingness to grapple at any moment. The fact that he is so good on the ground gives him the ability to exchange within a comfort zone that few fighters can reach. Even though Lentz scored two takedowns in their first confrontation, he found himself on the defensive, as Oliveira was able to reverse position twice and pass his guard four times. Considering that alongside the three submission attempts he mixed in, one has to wonder if Lentz is going to be able to avoid that grappling game for an entire fight.

Because their first bout ended in controversy, Lentz and Oliveira’s careers are linked in an interesting fashion. Tonight they have the opportunity to finally close the book on what was an exciting bout back at UFC on Versus 4. But even though both men have a lot on the line, this is an opportunity for Oliveira to prove he should be added to the conversation of the best fighters at featherweight today. With an impressive performance, he can put “Do Bronx” back on the map at 145 pounds.

UFC Fight Night 67

Nik Lentz vs. Charles Oliveira

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UFC Fight Night 67: Alves vs. Condit takes place on May 30, 2015 at Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil.

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