MMA journalist Ariel Helwani believes that the decision to strip Charles Oliveira of the lightweight title following his weight miss was “lunacy” from the UFC.
This week, Oliveira is coming off another memorable victory. Having overcome adversity to defeat Michael Chandler last May and Dustin Poirier in December, “Do Bronx” was presented with Justin Gaethje as his next challenge in the UFC 274 main event.
Once again recovering from early knockdowns, something that is becoming a habit for the Brazilian, Oliveira locked in a rear-naked choke for the victory. Unfortunately, he still left Phoenix lighter than he arrived.
That’s because even with the win, a 0.5-pound weight miss meant that the belt was vacated upon the start of Saturday’s headliner. With Oliveira’s 11th consecutive triumph, the title remains without an owner for the time being.
However, that’s not how Helwani sees things. According to the Canadian, it’s very clear who the UFC lightweight king is.
During a recent edition of The MMA Hour, Helwani reacted to this past weekend’s action. In a scathing rant, the 39-year-old claimed that Oliveira was “screwed” by the UFC following his weight miss.
“I feel very confident in saying that Charles Oliveira was screwed. Charles Oliveira is being screwed right now,” insisted Helwani. “Charles Oliveira is the lightweight champion of the UFC, there is no question in my mind. I think it is absolute lunacy. I think it is crazy. I think it is one of the craziest things we’ve ever seen, that this guy shows up a half-a-pound over on a beam scale, not a digital scale, a beam scale, and there’s no human error involved and just on the spot they’re gonna say, ‘Yeah, you’re stripped.’ For half-a-pound?”
Helwani went on to cite other instances of champions seemingly not being on weight, but being granted the benefit of the doubt, as evidence for his take.
The Canadian recalled Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s controversial weigh-in ahead of his 2020 defense against Gaethje, Daniel Cormier’s memorable use of the towel prior to UFC 210, and some beneficial rounding down for his compatriot Georges St-Pierre.
“Are you telling me in the history of the UFC this has never happened before? Of course it’s happened before,” said Helwani. “If that fight this past weekend was happening in Las Vegas, Charles Oliveira would still be the lightweight champion. He never would’ve had to weigh in a second time, let alone a third time, let alone need the hour allowance.
“I’ve seen enough weigh-ins in Las Vegas. It’s boom, boom, (done). We all saw the clip, I re-posted it, not because I have an ax to grind with Khabib, but because it was very noticeable,” Helwani continued. “Khabib, Gaethje, that thing wasn’t even settled; ‘Boom, boom, please go to the back and re-hydrate.’ We’ve seen this time and again… In Buffalo, (Daniel Cormier) didn’t make the weight. He held onto the towel. GSP, Montreal, my other boy, he was over 170 and they rounded down.”
Helwani: Stripping Oliveira Was “Criminal”
With those points in mind, Helwani suggests that the different attitude towards Oliveira’s narrow indiscretion on the scale was “criminal.”
The journalist also noted that his view was without even considering talk of a decalibrated scale behind the scenes, which the likes of Ariane Carnelossi notably complained about in the aftermath of last Friday’s weigh-ins.
“Time and again, people in championship fights have been over… All of a sudden, Charles gets the bad luck, the misfortune of running into a stickler, who’s gonna be like, ‘Nope, we’re gonna get this on the dot.’ And I’m not even talking about the conspiracy that the weight thingy, the calibration on the scale, I’m not even talking about that. But for a half-a-pound… the fact that he was stripped of the belt, to me, it’s absolutely criminal,” concluded Helwani.
Like Helwani, it seems the prevailing view is that Oliveira remains the kingpin at 155 pounds. Nevertheless, “Do Bronx” will have to prove that when he returns to action to fight for the now-vacant lightweight strap later this year.
Do you agree with Ariel Helwani’s view on the UFC’s decision to strip Charles Oliveira of the lightweight title?