TUF Live Finale: 5 Fights for Charles Oliveira to Take Next
When Charles Oliveira burst onto the scene, he was the talk of the lightweight division after snagging back-to-back submission victories over tough opponents in Darren Elkins and Efrain Escudero.
Oliveira was such a threat that he was the betting favorite in a bout with grizzled contender Jim Miller.
Now that Oliveira has dropped down to his natural weight class, he has been able to better display his skills. "Do Bronx" has recorded submission finishes in each of his featherweight contests, which includes an impressive guillotine choke last night against Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins.
With the well-rounded skills of Oliveira, he matches up well against most fighters in the division. Here is a look at five fights that Charles Oliveira should take next.
Eddie Yagin defied the odds when he soundly defeated former title contender Mark Hominick back at UFC 145. The bout was widely considered a "gimme" for Hominick, who needed to get back into the win column after back-to-back losses.
Yagin has strong punches and he throws his shots at interesting angles. Landing just one would put Do Bronx in trouble.
Oliveira would be the favorite in this fight, but that didn't stop the Hawaiian in his last appearance.
Dennis Siver is another star who is undefeated since dropping down to featherweight. Siver won four in a row to put himself in the mix at lightweight, but a loss to Donald Cerrone made him rethink his divisional decision.
Both men left the lightweight division after quick stoppage losses to Donald Cerrone in 2011, and fighters who have something in common will end up across the cage from one another on a regular basis.
Siver has tremendous striking and solid takedown defense. The young Brazilian holds a substantial grappling advantage, but in the event that he can't get this fight to the ground, his series of kicks and hooks could keep him above water.
Roberto Peralta is a well-touted prospect who was originally scheduled to meet Oliveira at the inaugural UFC on FX event; however, he had to pull out of the contest due to injury.
Peralta hasn't lost any of his last nine fights, a streak that stretches back to July of 2009. When he returns to the cage, the UFC will likely test him, given that his last fight was an impressive performance against Mackens Semerzier.
Oliveira cannot afford to make mistakes in the striking department against a fighter like Peralta. Eleven of his 15 wins have come by way of KO or TKO, and he would love to add the partially shaved scalp of Oliveira to the collection.
Hatsu Hioki/Ricardo Lamas Winner
At UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida, a featherweight battle between Hatsu Hioki and Ricardo Lamas is currently scheduled. Whoever wins would prove a weighty test for Oliveira.
Hatsu Hioki has already turned down a shot at champion Jose Aldo in hopes of getting another tune up first. With the Korean Zombie securing a title shot in his last bout with Dustin Poirier, Hioki will need to fight for a third time in 2012 if he is going to get his crack at the belt.
Lamas is looking for his third consecutive win in the Octagon against Hioki, but he isn't in title conversations yet. He currently sits on a nearby rung on the divisional ladder next to Oliveira, and each fighter is 2-0 since dropping to the featherweight division.
Cub Swanson/Ross Pearson Winner
Ross Pearson is a recent addition to the featherweight roster after a successful run in the UFC lightweight division. Cub Swanson is a WEC import who has shared cage time with Jose Aldo and Jens Pulver.
Pearson and Swanson are both coming off of a win, and they will square off against one another at UFC on FX 4 on June 22nd.
Like Oliveira, the winner of this bout will be on a two-fight winning streak and looking to continue the momentum. Either man poses a stiff challenge to Oliveira, which is exactly what the 22-year-old needs if he is going to keep growing as a fighter.