After UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira failed to make weight on Friday at the UFC 274 weigh-ins, he was forced to vacate the title, which allowed lightweight challenger Justin Gaethje to be the only one eligible to win the title on Saturday.
Oliveira missed weight by one-half pound and was unable to reach the 155-pound weight limit after a one-hour extension to make weight. If Oliveira wins tomorrow night, he will be unable to win the vacant lightweight championship. A win over Gaethje would likely result in a rematch for the vacant title later in 2022 or the UFC would select another opponent for a vacant title fight against Oliveira.
This weight mishap by Oliveira complicated Saturday’s lightweight championship bout. Since only one fighter, Gaethje can win the title, it casts a large shadow of doubt on Oliveira. For the last five years, he worked tirelessly to remove the label of being a “quitter.” In less than an hour on Friday, his 10-fight winning streak went to waste after he failed to successfully make weight in what would have been his second lightweight title defense.
Championship weight of 155 for @Justin_Gaethje 💪
— UFC (@ufc) May 6, 2022
Oliveira’s struggles to make weight put unnecessary pressure on both fighters to compete. For Oliveira, the critics will say that he is not focused, while Gaethje will feel the pressure of beating Oliveira at one of the lowest moments of Oliveira’s career. It is unclear what impact this situation will have on the fight, but it does not seem to have a positive impact on Oliveira.
Final Prediction: Justin Gaethje def. Charles Oliveira Via First-Round TKO/KO
From a mental standpoint, the fight completely shifted in Gaethje’s favor, but Oliveira needs to prove that he still has the confidence to win the fight. The extra weight can do two things for Oliveira, it can give him a competitive advantage against Gaethje, or it could hurt him because he was forced to make a weight limit that he could not reach. Oliveira’s grappling and submissions will remain an issue for Gaethje, but Gaethje will have the confidence to stun Oliveira while the fight is kept standing. Expect Gaethje to throw heavy shots early in round one with the intent to put Oliveira away early. The mental aspect of this fight will help Gaethje win via first-round TKO.