The lightweight title is on the line Saturday night when challenger Justin Gaethje engages in a game of high-stakes fist-chicken with champion Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC 274. Read on for our Oliveira-Gaethje picks and predictions.
Oliveira has slowly transformed from a highly skilled gatekeeper into the best 155-pounder on the planet after authoring one of the greatest career renaissances in MMA history. Following his violent and surprising capture of the vacant lightweight title with a TKO of former Bellator champion Michael Chandler at UFC 262, “Do Bronx” proved his bona fides again seven months later with a submission of Dustin Poirier at UFC 269.
Editor’s note: Oliveira was stripped of his title after failing to make weight on Friday. If he wins on Saturday, the lightweight title will be vacated. Gaethje can still claim the belt with a victory.
Meanwhile, Gaethje is possibly MMA’s purest purveyor of violence. He punched his ticket to a title shot with a thrilling unanimous decision victory over Chandler at UFC 268. Gaethje and Chandler essentially engaged in a real-life game of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots, battering each other for 15 grueling minutes. When the bloody dust settled, Gaejthe emerged with his hand raised, earning a shot at UFC gold.
Here are my Oliveira-Gaethje picks and predictions for the UFC 274 lightweight championship main event (odds via Fanduel Sportsbook, Caesars Sportsbook, and DraftKings Sportsbook; Pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Oliveira vs. Gaethje Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday May 30, 10:00 PM ET (main card)
TV: ESPN +,PPV
Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Oliveira vs. Gaethje Odds Analysis
The champion opened as a -205 favorite, and that line now ranges from -170 to -190 depending on the sportsbook.
Gaethje can be snatched up at +165 through DraftKings. He’s an underdog with the ability to claim victory with one punch.
Regardless of who prevails, the sportsbooks are rather confident the fight won’t be left up to the judges. DraftKings is offering -500 odds that the fight won’t go the distance.
Charles Oliveira Betting Profile
Oliveira is a venomous finisher who vanquishes his opponents when he smells blood in the water. He holds the UFC’s records for most submission victories (15) and most stoppages (18). Once mostly known for tapping out opponents, Oliveira has rounded out his game while adding sharp, technical striking to his repertoire.
Do Bronx’s steady evolution has led to 10 straight wins since 2018. That includes triumphs over Kevin Lee, Tony Ferguson, Jim Miller, Poirier, and Chandler.
With a clear power disadvantage against Gaethje, Oliveira will use his striking to set up takedowns while tirelessly hunting for submissions. This fight is unlikely to reach the judge’s scorecards, and Oliveira’s submission skills offer his clearest path to victory.
Justin Gaethje Betting Profile
Melting jaws is Gaethje’s bread and butter, despite his collegiate wrestling background. When Gaethje hits you, you stay hit.
The man’s fists are nuclear warheads. Following a lukewarm start to his UFC career that included losses to Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, the former World Series of Fighting champion carved his way through the division, racking up consecutive KO/TKO’s of James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Tony Ferguson, and claiming the interim lightweight title in the process. He failed to capture the undisputed championship against division boogeyman Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Gaethje bounced back from that with his triumph over Chandler.
Gaeathje will attempt to use his wrestling to keep the fight upright while facing a submission specialist of Oliveira’s magnitude. He’ll launch his absurdly powerful punches in the hopes of separating the Brazilian from his senses.
Oliveira vs. Gaethje Picks
- Oliveira to win (-170 via Caesars) ★★★★
- Oliveira to win by submission (+135 via FanDuel) ★★★★
SEE ALSO: Chandler-Ferguson Picks
Oliveira vs. Gaethje Predictions
Oliveira to win (-170)
I’m done doubting Do Bronx.
I don’t expect Oliveira to be keen on engaging Gaethje in an absolute firefight. But he was able to weather the storm against killers in Poirier and Chandler, and the veteran will be able to do it again on Saturday night.
In what should be an exhilarating bout rife with knockdowns and near submissions, Oliveira will eventually escape the cage with 10.5 pounds of gold wrapped around his waist.
Oliveira to win by submission (+135)
Trying to completely outslug a man with Gaethje’s vicious capabilities is a fool’s errand. Instead, expect Oliveira to avoid the heaviest shots before engaging his opponent in a scramble and transforming the clash into a grappling match.
From there, the UFC’s most prolific submission artist will sneak in something nasty and render Gaethje unconscious with a choke.
Daily Betting Picks
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Oliveira-Gaethje Picks made on 5/5/2022 at 6:52 a.m. ET.