A few short years ago, Charlies Oliveira burst onto the scene in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, after an early hot-streak, Oliveira’s career endured a period of hits and curious misses. Now, after handing Hatsu Hioki the first stoppage loss of his career, it looks like “Charles do Bronx” has finally put his UFC career back on track.
The young Brazilian native came into the UFC with a record of 12-0, finishing all but one of his fights by submission or knockout. Oliveira began his UFC career as a lightweight, rattling off a quick submission win over then 11-1 Darren Elkins at UFC on Versus 2 (currently, Elkins is 7-3 in the UFC and ranked No. 12 at featherweight). He followed that win up with a submission victory over former Ultimate Fighter winner Efrain Escudero. With his exciting style, submission offense and starting off his UFC career at 2-0, Oliveira looked poised to take over the lightweight division.
A run of bad luck followed his early win streak. Oliveira suffered a quick submission loss to top lightweight fighter Jim Miller in the first round. He looked to have a TKO victory over Nik Lentz in his next fight, but the win was overturned because Oliveira hit Lentz with an illegal knee strike in the bout shortly before the finish. In Oliveira’s next fight, he was knocked out quickly in the first round by Donald Cerrone, another top UFC lightweight.
At this point, Oliveira opted to change course and move down to the featherweight division. The move appeared to pay off well for Oliveira early on. At UFC on Fox 2, Oliveira submitted Eric Wisely with a submission, a rarely seen reverse calf slice. Later in 2012, he followed that up with a win over another Ultimate Fighter champion, Jonathan Brookins, at The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale. Yet again, Oliveira looked poised to take over a division.
Unfortunately for Oliveira, things took a turn for the worse again at UFC 152 in his fight against Cub Swanson, where Oliveira was the betting favorite to win. However, Oliveira missed weight for the fight, which was puzzling because he had not previously appeared to be struggling to make 145 pounds. For his featherweight debut, Oliveira actually came in under weight. During the fight with Swanson, Oliveira was put away after a well-placed punch that knocked him loopy.
Oliveira lost his next fight with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 162. Oliveira put in a strong, valiant effort against the former champion but still came out on the losing end. However, the fight did earn high praise from the fans and UFC boss Dana White. It also gave Oliveira an additional Fight of the Night Bonus.
Oliveira finally began to turn things around with his next fight at UFC Fight Night 36 against Andy Ogle. Oliveira was able to fight in his home country of Brazil for the first time in his Octagon career. Ogle was submitted by Oliveira with a triangle choke in the third round, earning Oliveira yet another performance bonus.
The strong run continued for Oliveira this weekend at UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland New Zealand. Oliveira fought Hatsu Hioki, who up until that point had never been finished in a career that spans 36 fights. All of Hioki’s losses were handed out by decision. Oliveira changed that with his submission victory, using an anaconda choke to put Hioki away during the main card. Hioki was 3-3 going into the fight, but he was coming off a win. At one point, Hioki was seen as a top ranked featherweight and viable contender to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. However, Hioki opted out of accepting an opportunity to fight for the title and turned down a fight with Aldo.
Oliveira has now re-established himself as a star of the UFC featherweight division. All of his UFC wins have come by submission, proving that he is also a finisher. It looks like his issues with weight-cutting and his previous losses are now in the mirror. If you look at his losses, many of them are to top contenders or ranked fighters. One could also argue he should be ahead of many fighters in the Top 15 of UFC’s official featherweight rankings.
Regardless, Oliveira is consistently one of my most favorite fighters to watch in the UFC. I look forward to his next outing now that momentum is back on his side. This win should move him higher up the rankings and net him a bigger fight next time.