UFC 274: Charles Oliveira submits Justin Gaethje in first round to take first step back to lightweight title

Charles Oliveira forced Justin Gaethje to tap to a rear naked choke

Charles Oliveira submitted Justin Gaethje in the first round of the UFC 274 main event on Saturday, as the Brazilian took the first step on what he hopes will be his road back to the lightweight title.

Oliveira missed weight by half-a-pound on Friday, and as a result he was stripped of the lightweight belt that he had won last year. The 32-year-old was also ineligible to win back the gold in his clash with Gaethje, who would have become the new champion if he had beaten Oliveira.

The American came close at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, knocking down Oliveira twice in a chaotic first round but refusing to follow the jiu-jitsu black belt to the mat. On both occasions, Oliveira was able to stand and recover, before securing his own knockdown of Gaethje with a perfect straight right punch later in the round.

Oliveira, who holds the records for most finishes and most submission wins in UFC history, pounced at once. The Brazilian took Gaethje’s back and considered his submission options, before locking in a rear naked choke and forcing the former interim champion to tap out in his home state of Arizona.

It marked an 11th straight win for Oliveira, who also survived a knockdown against Michael Chandler to claim the vacant lightweight title last May and fought back from multiple knockdowns from Dustin Poirier to retain the gold in December.

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Oliveira survived two knockdowns to beat Gaethje

Upon making the decision to strip the title from Oliveira on Friday, the UFC said in a statement that “Do Bronx” would become No 1 contender at lightweight if he were to beat Gaethje.

It is as yet unclear whom Oliveira will face for the again-vacant belt, though Islam Makhachev is a potential opponent for the Brazilian.

The Dagestani is a close friend of Khabib Nurmagomedov, who corners compatriot Makhachev and reigned as lightweight champion before relinquishing the title upon his retirement in 2020. Khabib retired moments after submitting Gaethje – who was interim champion at the time – leaving the belt vacant.

Oliveira then won the gold by knocking out Chandler, who was also victorious at UFC 274 with a second-round knockout of Tony Ferguson. After stopping Ferguson with a stunning front kick to the face, Chandler called out the winner of the main event in Phoenix, Arizona, while also expressing his desire to face Conor McGregor.

Similarly Oliveira welcomed a clash with the Irish former dual-weight UFC champion.

In the co-main event, Carla Esparza dethroned women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas in one of the least eventful title fights in UFC history.

Carla Esparza celebrates becoming a two-time UFC strawweight champion

Esparza, the first ever champion in the division, submitted Namajunas in the pair’s first meeting in 2014. Still, Namajunas went on to become a two-time strawweight title holder, though her second reign ended in disappointing fashion as Esparza’s began in the same way.

There was very little action across five rounds, although Esparza secured a few takedowns and ultimately got the victory via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47).

Full UFC 274 results

Main card

Michael Chandler recorded one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history, against Tony Ferguson

Charles Oliveira def. Justin Gaethje via first-round submission (rear naked choke, 3:20)

Carla Esparza def. Rose Namajunas via split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47)

Michael Chandler def. Tony Ferguson via second-round KO (front kick, 0:17)

Ovince Saint Preux def. Mauricio Rua via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

Randy Brown def. Khaos Williams via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Prelims

Francisco Trinaldo def. Danny Roberts via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-27)

Macy Chiasson def. Norma Dumont via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)

Brandon Royval def. Matt Schnell via first-round submission (guillotine choke, 2:14)

Blagoy Ivanov def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Early prelims

Andre Fialho def. Cameron VanCamp via first-round KO (punch, 2:35)

Tracy Cortez def. Melissa Gatto via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

CJ Vergara def. Kleydson Rodrigues via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

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Lupita Godinez def. Ariane Carnelossi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Journey Newson def. Fernie Garcia via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

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