Punishing 10-year climb for Charles Oliveira rewards him UFC gold

Nov. 4, 2016. 

Just 24 hours out from a featherweight bout with Ricardo Lamas, Charles Oliveira missed the 146-pound featherweight limit by nine pounds. He weighed in at 155, which was the fourth time he had missed weight for a bout in that division. 

He went on to lose the fight to Lamas, which was a third loss in his last four fights during that stretch. 

What was a promising career at that point, looked like it wouldn’t continue in the UFC with the recurrence of missing weight stacked on top of a losing streak. Maybe, it just wasn’t meant to be for “Do Bronx” in the UFC. At only 27-years old by the end of 2016, Oliveira had many routes to work his way back to the UFC through other promotions. 

Five months after that dreadful weekend, Oliveira had a second chance to get his discipline together in the UFC. He returned to lightweight and took on Will Brooks. It was a walk in the park as he submitted Brooks in just 2:30. A career that looked to be on the brink suddenly became that was recovering in just one take of the back. 

Fast forward five years later, and Oliveira is now the UFC Lightweight Champion. 

28 fights and nearly 11 years under the UFC banner is the journey the Brazilian had to take to reach the pinnacle of the most popular promotion in mixed martial arts. 

Even with his long, windy journey in the UFC, Oliveira is the record holder in the UFC for submissions with 14. Not only was Saturday night at UFC 262 the defining moment for a man having, maybe, his one and only chance at UFC gold, but also the night his legacy was cemented as the second-round knockout over Michael Chandler landed him his 17th finish in the UFC, another record in the books. 

It’s also worth noting that Oliveira’s resume may equal someone at the end of their athletic peak with a 31-8 record through 40 fights, but he is just 31-years old. Many miles have been driven in the career of Oliveira, but there are still many left to drive. 

No peak of one’s story could go without adversity and it was the perfect way for Oliveira’s story to be told to the millions watching around the world and in front of the sold-out Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. 

After some good work on the ground, Chandler was able to get back to his feet and dropped Oliveira late in the first round. It almost looked like the long road to gold was going to hit a dead end just a few feet from its destination. However, Oliveira was able to remain calm and used his size and reach advantage to prevent Chandler from landing the devastating blow to end the evening. Seemingly, that’s all Oliveira needed to know the night, and the UFC belt was his. 

An early exchange in the second round ended in Oliveira clipping Chandler with a left and it wasn’t long for Oliveira to smell blood in the water. Two more heavy shots to drop Chandler and referee Dan Miragliotta and seen enough. It was over. The long, strenuous path to UFC gold was over. Oliveira is a UFC champion. 

Rightfully, the Brazilian jumped over the Octagon, greeted the ESPN+ commentary booth and UFC President Dana White, who even wore some of Oliveira’s blood. Out of pure elation, Oliveira ran around the Octagon to celebrate his glorious victory with anyone and everyone he could. 

While one may look through his long history on Wikipedia and see all the problems he’s dealt with, the main aspect of Oliveira’s career people will remember now is this night. 

The night Charles Oliveira shocked the world and became UFC Lightweight Champion. 

May 15, 2021.

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