To date, Oliveira has proved all of his doubters wrong. The veteran Brazilian secured his place on the 155-pound throne with a come-behind-victory over Michael Chandler last year. Seven months later, he repeated that feat by recovering from an early scare to upset the odds against Dustin Poirier.
The next test for “Do Bronx” and his impressive lightweight rule will come next month at UFC 274. In the main event, he’ll share the Octagon with former interim champion Gaethje, whose last outing saw him defeat Chandler on the scorecards following a Fight of the Year-worthy clash.
After seeing Oliveira overcome the doubts held by many to defeat two elite contenders in 2021, many are backing the Brazilian to once again display his superiority against “The Highlight.” But one former champ-champ believes Gaethje poses the biggest test for Oliveira in the division.
Cejudo: Gaethje Could “Break” Oliveira
One man who’s consistently been signaled as a sure-fire future titleholder is Islam Makhachev. With GOAT contender Khabib Nurmagomedov behind his charge up the rankings, many expect the Dagestani to follow in the footsteps of “The Eagle” and perhaps even be the one to dethrone Oliveira.
However, for former UFC flyweight and bantamweight king Henry Cejudo, Makhachev doesn’t pose the biggest threat to the reigning champion. During an interview with Helen Yee, “Triple C” branded upcoming challenger Gaethje as Oliveira’s “kryptonite.”
“Man, Gaethje’s gonna have to really kick that leg. Gaethje could actually break him (Oliveira),” suggested Cejudo. “But if Gaethje doesn’t break him, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ is too technical. He’s got too many sharp ways. He’s got so many more ways to beat him.
“I do think that Charles Oliveira’s biggest kryptonite is Justin Gaethje. I used to think it was Islam, but not no more,” admitted Cejudo. “Because he’ll (Oliveira) be happy to go to the ground with Islam, and that’s where it gets dangerous.”
Cejudo’s hypothesis will certainly be tested in the coming months, firstly when Gaethje challenges for gold at UFC 274 on May 7.
Should “Do Bronx” emerge with the gold still in his possession, we’ll likely see the victor of the re-arranged clash between Makhachev and Beneil Dariush lined up as the next number one contender.
Do you agree with Henry Cejudo? Is Justin Gaethje a tougher test for Charles Oliveira than Islam Makhachev?