Hot Tweets: Charles Oliveira’s all-time stakes against Islam Makhachev at UFC 280, plus Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley


So I know there are fights this weekend, but let’s be real, these aren’t the fights we’re looking for. Next Saturday is the best card of the year, and at least on paper, one of the best in recent memory. So with only the smallest amount of disrespect toward all the fine men and women competing at UFC Vegas 62, let’s skip over that event entirely and talk about UFC 280.

If Charles Oliveira wins

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering this question because I think it’s kind of important, and truth be told, I still don’t have an answer I’m 100-percent confident in. Because Charles Oliveira’s career is so damn weird, it makes it really hard to fit him into conventional understandings of stuff like this.

Oliveira’s current win streak is undeniably impressive: 11 in a row, the most recent three being all-time classic comebacks, and wins over elite, elite competition. And before his current streak he amassed a very solid resume, with some good wins and a ton of awesome performances, but also some bad losses in there. Some of that was youth and some of it was his ill-fated attempt to cut to 145, but still, those losses stand out. And then there’s the whole weight fiasco at UFC 274. It doesn’t really matter, because while no one can believe that a half-pound was the difference in the fight, it wasn’t a significant amount and it didn’t make any difference. It sticks in my brain.

All of this is compounded by the fact that lightweight is the most cutthroat division in the sport’s history. No one has a long title reign because no one in the division can put together long runs of any kind. It’s just too difficult. This is why Khabib has such high praise. Khabib is the only one who did that. Even if he had a belt, he was the first to do so.

Ultimately, I think if Oliveira beats Islam and does it impressively, I’ll view him as the second-best lightweight ever, with room to take the top spot. Khabib is Khabib’s best lightweight for five years, but he was not allowed to be the title fighter due to injuries and business issues. I don’t think he can beat Khabib. Oliveira was the top-dog for only one year. I will need to learn more about him.

As for most exciting lightweight champions ever, I think he pretty clearly already has the top spot, because there isn’t a lot of competition. Oliveira has had three or more defenses of his title in this weight class. None of them were as exciting as Oliveira’s. Oliveira, who is most likely in the top five, can be defined as “most exciting fighters ever to have been UFC lightweight champion.” Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor are No. 1 and No. 2, no doubt. Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier are probably slotted in above Oliveira (though I’m willing to hear arguments otherwise), and then it’s just a matter of whether you prefer “Do Bronx” to Tony Ferguson, Anthony Pettis, Benson Henderson, and B.J. Penn.

Fortunately, I don’t think this is going to matter, as I’m picking Islam Makhachev to steamroll Oliveira.

What if Islam Makhachev wins?

Let’s start here: I believe that Islam Makhachev is going to thump up Charles Oliveira in dominant fashion.

Full credit to what Oliveira has done his last few fights. Because he is too easy to hit, and the hit hard, I was certain he would lose to Poirier or Gaethje. But Oliveira hacked MMA.

Because Oliveira was a notorious guard player and had a bad reputation, people didn’t follow him down to elbow him like Paul Felder. Instead, they thought that standing beside him would be a better way to harm him. Oliveira was able to rest and get back up so he could exchange shots. And if Gaethje hurts him again? You don’t have to. Drop and then recover. But when the time inevitably comes that he hurts Gaethje? Game over. This brilliant strategy puts Oliveira in the lead. Unless you change the equation. You can’t change the equation, buddy.

My take on the fight boils down basically to this: Oliveira won’t submit or threaten Makhachev. Oliveira can be dangerous, but his reputation is more than his abilities. Plenty of fighters have held their own with him on the floor, with a decent number just straight up beating him there. I find it difficult to believe Oliveira is attempting to trick Makhachev onto the mat.

And on your feet? Even there, Makhachev or Oliveira look pretty. Oliveira is much worse defensively, but he’s more threatening and has more variety. But because Oliveira doesn’t have the safety valve of dropping to his butt to save him that he’s relied on, he’s still at a disadvantage.

Oliveira’s best chance to accomplish something is in the transitions. Makhachev has a fantastic guillotine, and it’s possible for him to get lazy while taking down. But Makhachev isn’t an idiot and he’s going to have spent his entire training camp looking to minimize exactly that sort of thing. It just seems like Oliveira is in a bad style matchup.

As for Conor’s place in all this, the short answer is “no.” Islam isn’t going to fight Conor unless the UFC absolutely forces the issue. Conor in no way deserves it and I doubt Islam cares about the money grab, especially with Khabib in his corner. Islam is likely to fight the next guy up. Now if Oliveira wins, Conor is for sure in play. Do Bronx has been trying to grab the cash grab and it wouldn’t surprise me if the UFC offered Conor as a prize to convince him to fight Makhachev in hostile territory.

What happens to the loser?

The co-main events are arguably more exciting than the main event. This is due to the fact that there are so many possibilities. There are many things that could happen during this fight. However, the main event is essentially about whether Oliveira can submit Makhachev. But I take your point.

To answer your question: If Makhachev loses I think he will be awarded another title shot. Although he is still young and the UFC supports him, he has the potential to win another title shot. He’s also a better fighter than most in his division. If Oliveira loses, I think it’s 50/50. Oliveira is also young but has plenty of miles on him so it’s possible for Oliveira to have a sudden fall like Tony Ferguson.

In both instances though, the big benefit to being in the grinder that is the lightweight division: Once you make it into the top five, people stay there forever. Dudes will round robin at the top, holding their rankings down and staying in the title conversation and forcing the new blood to go on impossible streaks to break into the picture. Both men would have an equal chance of doing the damn thing again, given this.

Alexander Volkanovski

No. He is the stupid backup. Volkanovski has a weight class, one in which he has only beaten the No. 1, No. 3, and No. 6 contenders (and Chan Sung Jung being No. 6 feels generous). Beat the other dudes in the top five, or at least another couple of top-10 fighters, and then we can talk.

Volkanovski wants me to hate him so he will for certain call for a fight against his winner. This has zero chance. The UFC is going to Perth. Volk will appear on the fight card. And the lightweight champion of the world is not going to go to the featherweight champ’s backyard to fight, because why they hell would they? It’s Oliveira. The UFC will be going to Brazil next season. This is all stupid and I hate that Conor broke the brain of every fighter who ever wins a title.

Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley

I understand that nobody wanted to discuss the co-main. It was the most exciting fight, but it is not the main event. T.J. Dillashaw and Aljamain Sterling are hated by many people. They have completely different reasons but they don’t care as much about the fight. The other bantamweight fight is what’s getting people moving. Alas. At least it’s also a very good fight.

If O’Malley pulls off the upset against Petr Yan, he is 100-percent guaranteed to get the next title fight. There is a slight possibility that Sterling will defeat Dillashaw, and Dana White may strip him of his belt. O’Malley then hands the belt to O’Malley as a token of appreciation for the victory. There’s never been more of a sure thing. Furthermore, O’Malley would be able to beat Yan.

God love Marlon Vera, but the man doesn’t deserve a title fight yet. He needs one more win. He needs one more win, regardless of how it comes about, the way he does it or whether O’Malley wins. Yan is the clear No. 2 bantamweight in the world and arguably the actual best one — that’s the trump card. Every time, Aces defeat Kings.

And for all it’s value, I believe O’Malley is a chance. Not saying I’m picking him to win, but Yan is a slow starter and O’Malley usually comes out quickly. In a three-round fight, sometimes that’s enough to make the difference. Yan is victorious in a five round fight. O’Malley has a pathway to victory.

Undercard bout

I think Manon Fiorot beats Katlyn Chookagian, but I don’t have a ton of confidence in it.

By decision, death, taxes and Chookagian. This is a joke, and for good reason. This woman knows how to win. It may be ugly, it might be close, but she gets her hand raised. Chookagian only raises her hand when she is physically challenged. Jessica Andrade bodied her up, Valentina Shevchenko big-sistered her, and I think Manon has the same chance do to so. Fiorot is a good athlete, powerful, and a better striker. All of that, in combination, is a tall order for Chookagian. It won’t be stunning if “Blonde Fighter” manages to find a way to win, but I think Manon is about to punch her ticket to a flyweight title shot.

Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! It doesn’t matter what topic they are. Send them to me and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s laugh.