Not too long ago, this writer discussed the problems the featherweight division is facing due to its terribly shallow pool of fighters.
Charles Oliveira and Jonathan Brookins are both decent featherweights, for sure. Oliveira was reasonably successful as a lightweight, putting together a 2-2 (1) record (his two losses, however, came against top-ten fighters in Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone). He then had his featherweight debut against UFC newcomer Eric Wisely, who he beat by first-round submission.
Brookins, meanwhile, is best known for winning The Ultimate Fighter season 12, where he bested opponents above his native weight class. After topping his lightweight cast mates, he dropped back down to featherweight and had a semi-controversial decision loss to Erik Koch, but followed it up with a first-round KO of Vagner Rocha.
As the above article discusses, being able to string together any number of wins is enough to fall into a title shot in the featherweight division. With both fighters coming off wins, Brookins vs. Oliveira was a deceptively important bout.
Naturally, only one of them could win. Oliveira, obviously, came out on top.
Oliveira, as one would expect from a good-but-not-great fighter, looked good but not great against Brookins. Using his superior striking, Oliveira dazed Brookins and finished him with a submission. This is even more impressive when one considers that Brookins' greatest strength is his grappling.
Still, the performance was neither especially exciting nor eye-opening. Again, Oliveira was good, but not great.
Will Oliveira see a title shot in the next 12 months?
The bottom line, though, is that Oliveira now has a two-fight winning streak. Diego Nunes, Ross Pearson, Dennis Siver, Chad Mendes, Bart Palaszewski and Eddie Yagin cannot say the same. Also keep in mind, the last person that current top contender Erik Koch beat was, in fact, Brookins (who he did not dominate in the least).
Because of that, Charles Oliveira is potentially one fight away from facing current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. The situation is not perfect. Oliveira is barely beyond a straw-man of an opponent for Aldo. However, those are the facts.
Aldo is currently slated to face Koch at UFC 149 in July. Assuming he wins (which he will), he is likely going to face Chan-Sung Jung around November or December of this year. Schedule-wise, that works out perfectly for Oliveira.
With some luck (he needs other fighters to have issues with scheduling, injuries or upset losses) and a win, he could easily end up facing Jose Aldo in early 2013.
He does need one more win but again, the scheduling could not be better for Oliveira.
The UFC on FX 4 card, coming up on June 22, features four of the promotion's better featherweights, with Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas and Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson. This lines up nicely, and beating either of the winners from those bouts would realistically be able to put Oliveira into title contention.
Because of this, Oliveira is somebody to keep an eye on. Granted, it is really difficult to envision Jose Aldo losing to anybody. Regardless, Oliveira stands to benefit from the absence of any real threats to Aldo's reign.