Even though Oliveira just defeated Gaethje in the UFC 274 main event, Oliveira was not eligible to win the lightweight title. Prior to the contest, Oliveira missed weight and was forced to vacate the belt. Due to his weight miss, the Brazilian was ineligible to win the title back, but Gaethje was. In the end, Oliveira submitted Gaethje in the first round via rear-naked choke.
Speaking on his podcast recently, Sonnen discussed what he thinks is next for Oliveira, who will compete for the vacant lightweight title in his next Octagon appearance.
“The Bad Guy” called on past precedent to suggest that an immediate Oliveira/Gaethje rematch is not out of the question.
“Recent history says that Justin Gaethje also should be considered for that match. By recent history, I’m just talking about Figueiredo vs. Benavidez. Exact same scenario.
“I would suppose that the decision-makers looked at it and go: ‘Look, if we’re going to give Figueiredo the reward of being one part of the championship match, we can’t reward the offender if we don’t also reward the victim.'”
Sonnen is referring to the 2020 vacant flyweight title bout between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Figueiredo had missed weight and was ineligible to win the championship, even though he won the fight via TKO.
Due to the weigh-miss, Figueiredo and Benavidez had a rematch five months later, where Figueiredo cemented himself as the flyweight champion with a rear-naked choke victory.
One small difference between the scenarios is that Oliveira was already the champion who had defended his title prior to missing weight, whereas the first Figueiredo vs. Benavidez fight was for a vacant title.
Oliveira has been on a tremendous rise within the lightweight division. He is currently on an 11-fight win streak, which included his 155-pound title victory. Oliveira’s jiu-jitsu has looked impossible inside the Octagon, with seven of those 11 victories coming via submission.
Many would like to see Oliveira test himself against rising challenger Islam Makhachev. However, with how stacked the lightweight division is at the moment, there’s no telling what the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion will book.
Who do you think should face Oliveira next? And do you agree with Chael Sonnen that Justin Gaethje should be in consideration? Sound off in the comments!
Quotes via Sportskeeda