Oliveira was forced to vacate his UFC lightweight title after failing to make championship weight (155 lbs) in the leadup to his UFC 274 main event vs. Justin Gaethje. He ended up submitting Gaethje to earn the No. 1 contender spot and will likely fight for the now-vacant title for his next bout.
Oliveira had dealt with a slew of weight-cutting issues earlier in his career, particularly when he competed at featherweight. However, he had been able to put those issues behind him for the most part after moving up to lightweight full-time.
In his UFC 274 post-fight press conference, White endorsed Oliveira as the lightweight champion in most eyes, despite the recent weigh-in drama.
“Listen, he’s the guy,” White said of Oliveira. “He’s the guy. He didn’t make weight. We have rules. He didn’t make the weight, the belt is vacant. But I’m sure in the minds of the media and fight fans, Oliveira’s the champion. But technically, he’s the #1 contender now.”
Following his latest victory, Oliveira called out former lightweight champion Conor McGregor for the vacant lightweight title fight. He and McGregor have expressed some mutual interest in a fight throughout the past few months.
Oliveira first earned the lightweight belt by defeating Michael Chandler at UFC 262. This was after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired and vacated the belt, despite attempts by White to lure him for one more fight.
As of the publication of this story, Oliveira is ranked No. 5 on the UFC’s men’s pound-for-pound list. He could potentially move up in the rankings and return to fight for the vacant 155lb title later this year.
What’s your reaction to Charles Oliveira’s performance at UFC 274?