‘Happy’ Charles Oliveira, and the obvious case for his title shot after UFC 289

There's only one destination for Charles Oliveira after UFC 289, and it's back to the top

By: Evan Zivin | 2 months ago
‘Happy’ Charles Oliveira, and the obvious case for his title shot after UFC 289
IMAGO / USA Today / Sergei Belski

If anybody could take the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and turn it into a winning fight strategy, it would be Charles Oliveira.

The former UFC Lightweight Champion claimed that one of the key factors going into his co-main event clash with Beneil Dariush at Saturday night’s UFC 289 was his happiness level. Charles said he was excited to face his fellow contender and win by whatever means he could.

Well, if Saturday was how Charles Oliveira fights when he’s happy, I’d hate to see how he fights when he’s pissed off.

There’s no doubt that Charles had to fight some negative emotions to make it to The Rogers Arena in Vancouver, having last fought at UFC 280. In that main event, Charles suffered a one-sided beating at the hands of Islam Makhachev, losing the opportunity to regain the lightweight title he lost on the scale and not in the cage.

The night presented a rare moment of weakness for the Brazilian, who followed up a wild brawl with Michael Chandler to capture the championship with back-to-back rear naked chokes of former interim champs Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

Charles had the division on lock until Makhachev came and snapped the chain, and Oliveira’s 11 fight win streak, in two.

To get back to Makhachev, the #1 ranked lightweight contender knew that, for as dominant a display the current champ put on him last October, he was going to need to do the same to the #4 ranked Dariush.

And, while dominant may not be the right word to use to describe Charles Oliveira’s victory, it was certainly quick and absolutely effective.

The fight has been a long time coming

Even though the fight was originally supposed to happen in 2020 (but didn’t) before being scheduled for UFC 288 (before then getting pushed back a month due to Charles Oliveira suffering an injury in training), it’s fortunate that the fight happened now if only because it felt like we got to see the best version of both fighters on display inside the cage.

Dariush came into the fight in a similar position as Charles was when he first challenged for the UFC title: riding an 8 fight win streak (and a decision of Tony Ferguson). The Iranian-born wrestler has been popular with fans due to his focus on his family, his faith, and his willingness to fight as many times as it takes to prove he’s deserving of a title shot, even at the expense of losing those very opportunities to bigger names.

A win over the former champ would have absolutely been enough to claim inheritance to the throne, and it looked like Beneil would use his wrestling to make that assertion, spending more than 2 minutes of the opening round throwing bombs from Oliveira’s guard.

But, just as he did against Chandler, Oliveira proved he can handle himself against an elite grappler, turning Dariush’s top control (the takedown was achieved because of Oliveira pulling guard) into a heel hook attempt. Then, once the fight got back to his feet, Oliveira reminded everyone how complete of a fighter he is, landing a head kick and multiple right hands to bring Dariush back down to the canvas to put his lights out.

It was another wild and ballsy performance by “Charlie from the Bronx” but it was the kind of fight he’s become known for throughout his career and especially since he joined the lightweight elite.

Charles Oliveira is ready to challenge again

There’s no question the win should earn Charles Oliveira a rematch with Makhachev. The fact that Dana White has been non-committal over whether the winner of this fight would get the next title shot is pretty insulting, especially since the only other options for the fight is either a rematch with UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is busy preparing to defend that title next month at UFC 290, or the winner of the totally needed BMF title fight between Poirier and Gaethje at UFC 291.

Does Charles really need to campaign for the title fight against two men he’s already beaten, or one who just got his shot and wants another without even committing to make a permanent move up to lightweight?

Charles Oliveira has now beaten everyone else in the Top 5. The next choice for challenger is obvious.

Until Dana recognizes that, let’s just keep the happy vibes going.

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About the author
Evan Zivin
Evan Zivin

Evan Zivin is a writer, having joined Bloody Elbow in 2023. He's been providing his unique takes on the sport of MMA since 2013, previously working as a featured columnist for 411Mania. Evan has followed MMA and professional wrestling for most of his life. His joy is in finding the stories and characters within all combat sports and presenting them in a serious yet light-hearted way.

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