Charles Oliveira forced to vacate lightweight title after failing to make weight ahead of UFC 274

Charles Oliveira has failed to make weight and must vacate his lightweight title, meaning only Justin Gaethje can claim the belt at UFC 274.

Oliveira (32-8) came in about 200 grams over the 70kg limit. If he wins on Sunday (AEST), he will be the number one contender and have a shot at winning the title in his next fight.

The fight against Gaethje will be the co-main event of UFC 274, featuring Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title defense against former champion Carla Esparza.

Oliveira struggled in his lightweight title fights against Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier, rallying to beat both with a determination that had been questioned earlier in his career.

The Brazilian will probably have to dig deep again against Justin Gaethje, one of the most aggressive fighters in any weight class.

“Listen, it’s a truck,” Oliveira said.

“He’s just moving forward, I’m just moving forward, so there will definitely be collisions, there will definitely be a clash.”

Title fight or not, this is a violent nightcap on a main card that also includes Chandler facing off against former champion Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone taking on Joe Lauzon in what could potentially be the final fight of the career of “The Cowboy”.

Justin Gaethje is guaranteed the belt in UFC 274.(Getty Images: Chris Ulger)

The fight with Gaethje will be Oliveira’s second since winning the lightweight title from Chandler a year ago. Oliveira was rattled by Chandler before knocking him out in the second round and had similar tough times against Poirier in December before submitting him in the third round for his 10th consecutive victory.

The wins seemed to see Oliveira shed his reputation as a favourite, but Gaethje (24-3) believes constant pressure can bring the abandonment back into him.

“All of my criticism of Charles comes from a kid we all talked about, we all saw growing up,” Gaethje said.

“Now we are talking about a man of confidence. A different person, but ultimately the same Charles is still there.”

Gaethje won the interim lightweight title by defeating Ferguson in 2020, but lost the title to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a second-round submission later that year.

Gaethje, from Safford in the US state of Arizona, became the No. 1 contender in the lightweight division with a unanimous decision over Chandler in November.

Now he gets another title shot, this time against a crafty fighter who has the most submissions in UFC history with 20.

PA

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